The door to the creative writing deck winks at me like a familiar friend, beckoning my body to leap into the weather that cloaks us in comfort and magic. I wait all day to feel the fog nuzzle my shoulders, or to free my face to the sun rays. Heather always brags about our special little balcony, and I understand why. This place is where we, as a creative writing community, sing birthday songs in whatever manner the birthday person requests, relish delicious snacks, breathe fresh air, and laugh with our friends about our days and random philosophical ideas.
For Zai’s birthday, I baked homemade chocolate chip cookies, a classic, and brought them to the balcony as we celebrated. I rarely bake anything. As I passed around the thick, creamy cookies I received multiple comments claiming that I seem like a baker. This amused me, yet all I could think about was how everyone in the department finds ways to make each other feel good about themselves, selecting specific, writerly compliments that give us the feeling that we are truly noticed and cared for. Even though I am indeed not a baker.
The creative writing tradition is to ask the person whose birthday we are celebrating to decide how they would like us to sing the “happy birthday song.” The flowing creativity always surprises me as people find completely new ways to sing the song, verbal or non-verbal. Zai requested that we nod our heads in a manner that conveys the happy birthday vibes, and watching everyone unselfconsciously nod in unison to the internal singing in our heads made me remember how safe I feel with other young writers who simply wish to join together and support one another. Even without words, there is an electric transmission of bonded energy that travels from our pulses into the concrete and swirls through our brains, tying us together in one big poetic knot.
Other days, when there isn’t a birthday, I gaze down at the field and then zoom out to a crescent of the city. After my contemplative city watching, I often feel inspired to film TikTok videos of my friends and I. Propping my phone on some odd vertical surface, I lovingly tug friends into the camera shot and always end up hugging them or leaning my head on their shoulder. They are probably tired of this by now. But, I know that when I get home and watch the videos I feel like they are standing next to me again, and I can almost feel the light droplets of fog on my cheeks. I would honestly go to school just to hang out on that deck, I think to myself.
Once the ten minute break is over, Heather has to yell at us to come inside. I know that now I must wait impatiently to rush back to the balcony again the next afternoon. Yet, I look forward to reuniting in the classroom and engaging in rich discussions about poetry and short stories that often leads to talking as a class about topics I never thought I would be lucky enough to dive into with such an insightful group. The warm, misty energy we all absorb from the balcony follows us into the classroom and enriches our conversations and connection. As we share our individual ideas our voices flow freely, tinted with the lingering magic of the soft, frolicking breeze.