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Tag Archives: memoir

lineage

I wasn’t expecting my weekly post inspiration to come from Beyoncé today. She is on the cover of the upcoming September issue of US Vogue, and the email I got this morning announcing that and featuring gorgeous photos of her gorgeous self caught my attention. I clicked. I then read the “as told to,” interview, and went back to this paragraph over and over until I wrote it down on a notepad to the right of my keyboard.

“I come from a lineage of broken male-female relationships, abuse of power, and mistrust. Only when I saw that clearly was I able to resolve those conflicts in my own relationship. Connecting to the past and knowing our history makes me both bruised and beautiful.”

Y’all know I am about to put this memoir of mine to bed. In fact, I am working on the edits all day every day right now. The timing, as it always is because there is poetry in the world and in every particle of dust, is perfect. Much, okay almost all, of the material involves my parents. The anniversary of their deaths is once again staring me in the face — this Sunday, August 12, will mark thirty-two years that they’ve been gone.

So as you can imagine, I’ve studied my lineage quite a lot. Not just the who, but the what. I want to know what made/makes me the way that I am. Why do I struggle with this thing and breeze through that one? What am I dragging into my days and relationships that I should’ve left behind long ago? Why is it so hard for me to leave any of it behind? Why can I detach at the same time? Who were these people that shaped me so and then left me here to deal with their creation alone? Why am I sometimes thankful they’re not here to muck it up further? How am I lucky to have had the upbringing that I did? How can I still love them so much my heart feels like it will burst? How do I forgive? How do I not? How did I survive it? How am I free from it? How am I bound?

I won’t ever stop digging through it I don’t think. And Beyoncé, queen that she is, helped me see why. I want to make it better. I want to make me better. I don’t think we as humans want to struggle as hard as we do. I think we’re always reaching for understanding whether we know it or not, whether we’re consciously working toward comprehension of such complicated matters as family and lineage or not. Those matters are within us, therefore it is within us to try to figure them out.

When I look at my Mama and Daddy as children and into their two beautiful, innocent faces, I shake my head and tear up at the very idea that their lives were cut so short and cut so short in such a horrendous way. My heart breaks for the children that they were and for the adults that had the same hearts they were born with, however battered they had become when they died. I see my sister in them, I see myself in them, and most of all I see my son in them, God bless him.

I dig into my lineage almost constantly for him, so that I can try my best not to pass on the horrific and instead give him all the good that I was given. I dig into my lineage almost constantly for those who love me, so that I can try my best to act right, not screw up constantly, so I can be smart and cool like my Daddy, and capable, creative, open-hearted, and willing like my Mama. I dig into my lineage almost constantly for myself, so that I can ease up a little more each day, and find some compassion for the beautiful, innocent face and heart I once had.

Happy digging and happy Monday, y’all.

Sending so much love to everyone today, and thank you, Beyonce.

AM

storytelling

Everyone has a story to tell. They’re all interesting in some way.

I was thinking this morning about how important it is to be able to tell our stories. And to tell them to someone. To have someone listen. To have them acknowledged. To be able to say, “This is what happened. This is what happened to me. This is what happened to my people.” Saying something out loud makes it real in a way that keeping it inside doesn’t. It’s such a relief.

I read a lot of memoir. Not only because I have worked on one for years (to be published in Fall 2019 — yay for me), but because I find personal stories so interesting and I love an original voice. And every voice, when it is speaking the truth, is original. I am always looking for a common thread, I suppose, something to make me feel like less of an outsider in this world, something that will make me feel like I am not as strange as I imagine myself to be and that I somehow belong. It’s amazing how much we find we have in common with each other when we stop to listen to each other tell our stories.

Someone said to me the other day that it must be strange to go from songwriting for so many years to prose writing. I said yes, the discipline is quite different, but I’ve been working in memoir for over twenty years. I’ve always been telling my story in some way.

It strikes me that making and relating art isn’t so much about the look at me, but about the look at us.

My heart is moved by every story in some way. We are all connected by our commonalities. We should talk and share more often.

Happy Monday, Y’all.

AM