Sometimes, I think I’ve written all there is to write about Generation X. I’ve written about Pac Man, the Space Shuttle, the Berlin Wall, Michael Jackson, John Hughes, and every other cultural touchstone of my generation.
I’ve written about latchkey kids, divorce, abortion, the recession, the dot-com bust, the Great Recession, God, the devil, and sometimes, Generation Z.
Generation X Cynicism, Distrust
Over the last three years, the headlines about self-centered Baby Boomers have given way to headlines about entitled Millennials. It’s become so annoying to me I’ve started to write more than ever before about the cynicism, distrust, and delayed adulthood of Generation X. It’s become tiresome for me, friends. Even when I was bored, I’ve been a dutiful Xer keeping the secondary research going, posting consistently, staying with the meme. Once, I received an email from a professor in San Diego. He wrote, “You haven’t been posting, and I am relying on your blog for my thesis.”
I am not making this up, and I’m glad all those hours sifting through Google alerts paid off for somebody.
But, I’m not sure I want to write those kinds of posts anymore.
How To Find the Courage to Write a Memoir
So, where do I go from here? I don’t think the world needs one more coupon/contest/recipe blog. I think the answer is pretty easy. I go to the truth, that which I’ve been skimping on, avoiding and resisting for decades.
But, who could blame me?
How do I find the courage to write a memoir? I don’t know. Memoir writing is the most personal and passionate writing form. It is healing and probably always hurtful to someone. It’s the gift we give others, especially our children, but mostly it is a gift we give ourselves.
Avalanche of Emotion
When I was a little girl, we lived in a suburb southeast of Los Angeles in a 1,100 square foot stucco house. There were six of us living there, my father, my mother, my sisters, my brother. I drove by that house on a visit to L.A. in June. and I felt the weight of all my father’s sorrows on my shoulders.
He’d constructed a shanty of an office inside the garage of that house. It was his private escape over which he endured a baffling avalanche of criticism from female members of the family, extended and otherwise. Little did any of them know he was merely on the leading edge of the man-cave trend.
The story goes that within this lean-to my father smoked cigarettes while writing sermons and poetry. Once, when I was five, one of my siblings showed me a paperback that had pictures in it of people having sex. They found it in his “office.” At the time it was scandalous, but it did not change how I felt about him.
None of those women liked my father and they expected me not to like him, too. And, when I didn’t respond like they wanted me to, life was very lonely. And, in this paradigm, it always will be. Lucky for me, my father hit the escape hatch just before I turned seven. We left California and I grew up across the rural Southcentral Plains.
San Juan Capistrano, Pea Coats
This summer, for the first time, I understood the sheer and utter misery of my father. A sailor and a poet, he was landlocked in the absolute hell of Hacienda Heights. His dreams deferred, four kids to feed, is it any wonder he longed for the ocean? You would have longed for it, too. And, I never want to see that street again.
Toward the end of my trip to California, I visited San Juan Capistrano, and I remembered my father telling me the tale of the swallows. I could almost see him there in a pea coat in winter walking along the beach, my own private Hemingway and Poe. I miss him. I miss him. I miss him.
And, he wrote with such courage.
The week after my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and entered the nursing home we gathered in his apartment to pack up his things. I arrived late only to find three pea coats in the trash sans the buttons, which had just been snipped off. I dug the coats out and carried them home. They were heavy like his moods, poetry, and disappointments.
I have a lot of stories to tell. How to find courage?