Thoughts on memoir writing and living in the past….

After twenty years away, I am knee deep in high school. It is 2008 outside my window, two weeks from the presidential election but inside my office, it is the late 80’s, it is the land of prep school-Laura Ashley skirts, LLBean boots, The Cure, Dirty Dancing, Cherry Cokes and field hockey. I am in back high school. I am smoking cigarettes, losing my virginity, binging and purging, eating mushrooms and witnessing my mother as she moves into her own apartment-my dad alone in our after the hurricane home. It’s all painful and embarrassing and thrilling and I can’t understand how I let these people disappear from my life, these people who were my life. And when I come up for air, when it’s time to pick up my youngest child from school say, I look around me and have no idea where I am.

I miss my mom and dad as if their divorce was yesterday instead of twenty years ago. I eat my lunch and remember what it tasted like when it came back up, I flip through old photo albums and stare at the boys of my youth and wonder where they are now. 

No one told me that writing a memoir, immersing myself in my past, would be so spellbinding, so all encompassing. I walk around in a daze of my past, seeing people who are no longer there, feeling things that I’m sure have been resolved. I am having trouble returning to the present-to my boys, my husband-our life together. Some days, I don’t really want to return to the present and that scares me. My past was so exciting! I was so alive! and in my present, well, in my present, there is laundry to do, dinner to plan, buy and cook, people to take care of……

No one told me writing a memoir would be like falling backwards through time, and that climbing out would be steep, carrying a backpack heavy with memories, in the rain, and the mud.

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