I have four or five memoir chapters started. They just need to be fleshed out, tightened up and polished to a high-gloss shine.
Last weekend, I gave myself a deadline. I would pick one of the unfinished chapters and complete it by Monday night. I would then send it out to my critique buddies for their input.
I write for a living, so the deadline thing — even a self-imposed one — carries weight in my world.
I picked a chapter and started toying around with it. But every time that I sat down to write, I just couldn’t find the words to say what it was that I wanted to say.
Monday’s deadline came and went. The chapter remains unfinished.
Here’s what I’m writing about:
I am in college and unaware of my attraction to women. I’m about 21 years.
A group of us are walking around in the town that borders our college campus. It’s a rainy Sunday morning and we’re looking for someplace to grab a bite to eat.
As we’re wandering around town, I am drawn to a girl across the street. Her back is to me. She’s wearing blue jeans. I can’t take my eyes off her backside. Her rear end is tight and curvy and there’s just something about it that has me captivated. (C’mon, ladies, you know what I’m talking about.) I am oblivious to everything else around me.
My friend breaks my focused concentration.
“Do you think you can stare any harder at that girl’s ass?” she asks.
Of course, I deny looking at the posterior of the girl standing across the street. I say that I was looking at something else. You must be a weirdo for thinking that I was looking at a girl let alone a girl’s ass. This is the story I tell my friend. And myself.
So, those are the facts. I’m struggling with describing what I saw, what attracted me, how I felt inside.
I mentioned this to a friend the other night. She said it made sense that I was having a hard time “feeling” this incident. It was a time in my life that I was repressing my feelings and there was certainly shame surrounding those feelings.
She gave me some tips on how to break through this block and look at the situation in a different way.
I’ve been thinking about what she said and how to approach this chapter in a different way.
I did a bit of free writing yesterday morning and came up with a few ideas, but it certainly wasn’t a rush of thoughts and emotions.
I was still thinking about the chapter as I showered. Trying to put myself back in that place at that time. Trying to remember what it was like to be young and different but not know why. I could feel the tears welling up.
A few tears mixed in with the water from the shower. But the floodgates never opened.
It’s been more than 30 years, and I’m still holding it all inside.