Tag Archives: memoir

The Hollow Place

One word of backtalk too many and the day boiled over into hot tears—the kind that choke, that blind. My son didn’t know what to make of the blotchy-faced monster who hauled the car over the side of the road and sobbed.

Those days were hard. My work environment required me to pretend I was many things I was not, and maintaining the illusion exhausted me. There wasn’t enough money in the bank and the precarious tightrope walk of which bill not to pay left me anxious and headachey. The tears did nothing to alleviate the financial strain, and frankly they made the headache worse.

There was a conspiracy of misery that night. Just before the backtalk that broke the dam, R.E.M.’s Everybody Hurts came on the radio. The DJ didn’t know the song drags a sack of grief up from the dark place in my heart. But there is was, a little bit open at the top, the festering contents of loss breathing out into the atmosphere of the car—a gas leak waiting for a tossed match.

I’d tried to write earlier in the day, but the words wouldn’t come, dammed up behind the pretense and the fear.

I’d fed the stress on a diet of poor choices and excess, soothing the savage voices in my heart with flavor and texture on my tongue, but my body better understood that it had been a mistake. Self-loathing feels like a snug-waistband and bloated ankles. Self-loathing feels like dry mouth and belly ache.

The exhaustion, the grief for the choices I hadn’t made and for a friend lost a half century ahead of schedule, the frustration of writer’s block, poured out like the sticky and viscous fluid from a lanced wound, but what they left behind began to heal.

Pulling the car back onto the road and sniffling my way home, a very silent child in his car seat behind me, I allowed the space where the tears had been to breathe, to be empty and peaceful. When I arrived home I brought my son inside and held tight to to him and to his father. I showered away the tear tracks and slept away the tired eyes.

I shared the tears with all of you, and you filled the hollow place with joy.

Write on Edge: RemembeREDSelect an old blog post you’ve written and rewrite it as a memoir piece. The original can be found here.




A Patch of Sand

There aren’t more than three miles between my parents’ house and Mai’s. I rode my bike up and down that stretch so many times that summer. I rode all over my end of town that year. Wheels and my generally responsible nature meant freedom. 1991 was before helmets were en vogue.

I was on my way home, with the sunset behind me. I swerved out into the road a little to avoid a patch of sand. Those skinny road-bike tires are so fussy about sand. I’m sure I was telling myself a daydream about a boy whose name began with J. There were a million to choose from in my eigthth grade class. Continue reading

Wednesday, Late Afternoon: Re-conjured

The earthy funk of a toddler fresh from sleep. Sweet childhood sweat, waft of wet diaper, stale breath, the last whiff of baby hairline.

Chipotle hot sauce, garlic, onions, chicken, oil, hot cast iron.

Rain and early falling leaves, thrumming on glass. The fading sky: autumnal, drab.

The rhythmic whine of the dishwasher: swom… swom… swom… swom…

Fingers flutter, hovering over the keyboard. My too long hair, falling into my field of vision.

The dog’s too long nails, milling underfoot: clackclackclack

Moist heat from the stove, sheen of sweat above my lip.

Small, grimy, perfect hands around my waist.

Writing short posts is an excellent way to flex your word choice muscles. Which word is the most clear? Poignant? Direct?

This week I want you to conjure something. An object, a person, a feeling, a color, a season- whatever you like.

This is an edit of a post from the end of last summer.

Counselor Hunt

The ground angling down to the shore is precariously lined with dry, brown pine needles over soft soil. Roots arc up from the ground, twist and dive back, creating hazardous steps as I descend, sidestepping slightly for balance. Sunlight filters through ashes, birches, and firs, pale and green-scented on my face and bare arms.

The rock is warm, the lichen soft-green and dry on its surface. A watery breeze drifts over the shoreline here; there sunlight breaks and glitters on the pond. My body settles into the saddle-shaped depression at the rock’s center, my back against the dirt rising back up from the water’s edge.

The pond laps at the rock, a soft splot-splot-splot. A motor boat whirrs over the water past Blueberry Island like an industrial dragonfly and the wavelets amplify against my perch: splot-slap-splot-slap. Voices and laughter and raucous song drift over the water, tumble down the embankment from the forest trail above as campers in groups wander the acres, searching.

Water snake, peeper frog, pondweed, canoe, a kiss of shadow as a cloud slips past the sun. My thoughts empty, leaving space for fleeting observations.

Fill with deeper thoughts. Summer’s inevitable close, the crisp breath of fall in a new place, a shift in my life’s center of gravity. A dull ache between my shoulders muscles ahead of thoughts; I sit up and stretch, awareness and blood pushing back into flesh.

The heat from pond-mirrored sun dusts freckles on my skin, infuses my hair with the smell of summer, and I settle back into the hard saddle. The quiet cove down the shore is thickly skimmed in waterlilies, recently opened, nodding gently on the nearly still surface.

Footsteps above. I still myself, breathe quietly, drawing the air in silently. Giggles. I am found.

For this week’s memoir prompt, we’re going to let narrative take a backseat. Choose a moment from your personal history and mine it for sensory detail. Describe it to us in rich, evocative details. Let us breathe the air, hear the heartbeat, the songs, feel the fabric and the touch of that moment.