My present understanding and personalized definition of memoir, an assemblage of memories skillfully woven to create a story (my story, your story, our story); a collection of life’s bits and pieces tapestried with a particular theme in mind. Begin where you will.
And where would I begin?
“To become a writer I had to learn how to interrupt, to speak up, to speak a little louder, and then louder and then to just speak in my own voice which is not loud at all.” Deborah Levy
Memory surfacing. Mr. Valcour’s Grade 10 English class. He prefaced his questions towards me with, “Chance of a lifetime Ms. Ryan, and the answer is?” Heat creeping up cheeks, spreading like soft butter up to my hairline. My recurring three-word peep of a whisper, “I don’t know.” accompanied by a blush of shame resurrected from a million of life times.
Perpetual self-doubt. Shame. Weariness. Fear.
The thing was, Mr. Valcour was cool. I liked Mr. Valcour. My Dad and Mr. Valcour were friends. As the memory surfaces I realize Mr. Valcour must have known about the car accident, the one where my dad broke his neck and lived another 40 years erect, walking, sight less. Perhaps this was Mr. Valcour’s way of checking in with me. But why why why in front of the whole class? I must have surrendered a pile of those shame red ‘i don’t knows’ over the course of the year. Perhaps Mr. Valcour thought the more I practiced using my voice the more I’d build my capacity to speak up, speak a little louder, then louder until voice became a dignified voice of my own.
Memoir. Memories popping with possibilities of a theme to follow: Finding voice as a traumatized species within a traumatized world.