I have definitely committed to a new project, heart and soul. I am writing a personal memoir, working title Elizabeth, Meet Elizabeth, and the through-line is “Who the hell am I?” It proceeds on two intertwined paths; a chronological narrative of events, described objectively in third-person, with interruptions in the first-person mode tracing themes like lying, kindness, sexuality, motherhood, self-image, etc. It will take a long time to do this (I have evidence from our other books), and my hope is that it will be in final form in time for my 80th birthday, fourteen months from now.
It’s only in the last week that this third-person idea formed, and I think it’s productive. Yes, it’s interesting to cruise straight through the time-line; did this, then this, then this, but I don’t think that’s the point. I like the working title—Elizabeth, Meet Elizabeth—because it works on two levels. The first is the radical reshuffle caused by my finding the truth of my biological roots this last May, and the second is that I have never quite known who I am.
Conrad has a daily writing schedule that governs our lives. I am now attempting to insert my own regular writing time. It’s not just juggling time, it’s juggling attitude. This isn’t a frill, it’s a necessity. There are certainly enough hours in the day, it’s a matter of whether I can say to myself with authority, yes, this is mine, this is important.
So far, so good. “Good?” Well, yes, in the long run. Casting my nets back into very murky waters is certainly troubling. Much of my childhood memory is blanked, but it’s coming back, and while some of it is affirming, there are the other parts. And as I am looking at my young “adult” years, that’s a real challenge.
I think that’s why the “Who was I then? Who am I now?” approach is a good one. I think it’s likely that every person finds that they’ve worn a wild series of personae in the course of their lives: I’m not unique. But if the story of my own journey is to be of use, it will be as a mirror to that process. Mine is a bit more gnarly because of the mother/daughter rift. I never knew what it might be to be a daughter until Conrad’s mother embraced me with unconditional love.
So I’ve bought my ticket on the roller-coaster and have topped the first crest. I am hoping to become my own best friend.