One year ago I decided to start writing my memoir in earnest. Yesterday an author from a memoir boot camp I’m in talked about mining your journals for content. While most of my current journals are located in accessible file cabinets, there are older ones that I can’t always pinpoint.
I needed one of these diaries from the early 1980s for information related to a chapter I’m writing. “Change of Scenery” is about the experience I had visiting my Dad in Atlanta for six weeks in 1980. I was about to be 19 years old and had been mostly estranged from my father since my parents divorced six years earlier. I wanted to begin rebuilding our relationship and it was decided I would travel to his home from mine in Connecticut. It was a weird time for me because Dad had gotten remarried. His wife had recently undergone surgery for Crohn’s Disease, so I spent much of my time alongside Dad helping care for her. During that visit, I got to see my father in a new light.
While expository writing is not that difficult for me, writing a memoir in the form of scenes that create an interesting story arc can be daunting. Having journals handy that you can mine for content make it somewhat easier to create those scenes. As it happened, while trolling around my closet searching for something else, I discovered a bag with a journal in it that had a leprechaun and clover on the front—on St. Patty’s Day no less🍀. When I opened it up, I landed on a poem I’d penned after my visit with Dad . . .
When I was growing up
I found it hard to feel
the conditional love
that never seemed to be real.
And now sometimes when it seems
there’s no love to be found,
I know there’s someone who cares
even though he’s not around.
I hear his voice, “I love you”
than everything feels alright.
As long as my heart can feel this
it’s not so great of a fight.
As long as I know you’re always with me,
as long as I know you’ll always care;
It’s so much better being alive
knowing Daddy’s love is always there.💕