If we were having a cup of coffee right now I would tell you my husband is cooking Chicken Parmesan for dinner tonight. I’d say I love it when he cooks because I’m not much into cooking and it sometimes turns me stale.
If we were having coffee right now I would tell you how my book is progressing. I’d say I had a major meltdown at 3 a.m. one night and tore apart the book Writing and Selling Your Memoir because I hated that it made me feel incapable of the task. I’d share the following snippet of writing I have since come up with.
Mom told me the first time she laid eyes on Dad, he was the most macho guy she had ever seen. He dazzled her with his black hair and green eyes. And that mustache! She knew at once he would be the man she would marry. When I asked how she could be so certain, she said, “I just knew.”
Mom and Dad were married in a friend’s living room in January, 1970. Mom wore a short gray dress with long sleeves. Their wedding photo revealed a terrifying, joyous occasion. Mom’s broad smile and stylish cropped hair, so typical of brides, clashed with Daddy’s restricted grin. A clock on the mantel behind them evoked a curious omen. Doomed or eternal? Mom and Dad’s marriage was both. They wore the prospects on their fingers-Mom with a gold band, Daddy with none.
Six months later, my big sister was born.
If we were having coffee right now, I would look in your eyes, hopeful I can write this book.
If we were having coffee, I would ask how your world is going.
I should have written a diary. Forgive me for fearing my sisters might find it, which is not to say I had little ability at hiding keepsakes of my inner world. Rather, it is that I excelled at disguising my world. This tactic evolved gracefully, slowly. By adulthood, infused in a concealed version of life, my secrets remained hidden, especially from myself. For this, I must ask my own forgiveness.
It is easy to look back at childhood and see the triumphant casualties of my family, memories emblazoned with red. The pendulum swing through the years leaves me yearning for the moods wedged between childhood’s climactic and sullen moments. How difficult it is to dredge up the gray-timeless hours spent adhering stickers on notebooks, building forts, reading Snoopy, and chasing boys. I want to see the tomcat fumble in the dark. Summer days spread before me like an ocean of time. I rejoiced piecemeal discoveries festooned with tinsel and dust. I want to feel her smallness, expand into the world with thin arms, listen to footsteps with greater importance than my own.
There, I might find recourse in laughter, or perhaps on the duct-taped seat of a bicycle I pedaled nowhere and home again. I would smell anew the lilacs of spring. Time diffuses spirit. Diaries capture it. Maybe, just maybe, mine will visit once again in the walls of my written story.
…to find my stories that fill the gap between memory and truth, to discover the lost moments before they fall into a wasteland of broken parts and disappear in the heap.
I write to know emotion-names do little justice. A name is only a name, a cloud that vanishes. Add my version of sadness or thrill or elation and the emotion becomes mine. The cloud takes form. I name it. No one else sees the same cloud as me.
I extract the universal. Writing is gutting a fish-I peel away the skin, slice through the flesh, and pluck out brittle bones. The story is there, beneath the pink and fleshy and ripe. My hunger is sated when I strip the spine and imprints are fossils with stories to tell.
I write to hear the dance of words in my head. No! That wasn’t right. Start the dance again. This time without the blunt kick of the “k”. Try the soft step of the “p” instead. Yes, much better.