My wife Susan is working on her memoir. The particular memoir she’s working on today. That one. Memoirs are funny, like a pinata, sort of, take a whack and see what falls out, whatever awakes in memoir-ville – any old time and place. So, for example, were I to try and write my memoir it would not have to necessarily cover the time of my entire life, from that early in the morning mid-January in a 1949 New Bedford, MA hospital (thanks Mom) to say a couple of hours ago when my wife and I took an extended stroll through a tree-drenched southeast Portland (OR) cemetery.
That’s not how it works. I may choose to write my one and only memoir about the seven years it took me to accumulate my four-year Bachelor’s Degree, with time on Cape Cod, time on the Massachusetts North Shore, alive and adrift in substance abuse and bouncing among relationships and a bunch of political actions and activities and leafleting and sit-ins and sit-downs and parades and pickets and the old draft card stapled to The Peoples’ Peace Treaty and all kinds of rock and roll and psychedelic brouhahas, and my point is I could write “My Memoir”, likely a bestseller no doubt (I’m due), and it would leave 65 plus years entirely ignored and unmentioned. Out of my life. Memoirs are cool like that — this here is this here time in my life when I was here doing this feeling that and you ought to hear about it because….
Yup. Good old memoirs.
I like the book “The Files of Milky Dent”. It’s wicked good and if you haven’t read it yet get with the program, Holmes. Now that book covers different times and different places so you can’t really call it Milky’s memoir, though – and this is so cool – there are little memoir eggs and babies and even sperms all through “The Files”, so Milky might write a memoir about his time on Cape Cod. Or Milky might write a memoir about his experiences on the North Shore, some of the exact same places I was and so also could but haven’t yet written a memoir about. Or, and this strikes me as the likeliest candidate, Milky can write a memoir about “Wonder Pizza”, everything about his age-20’s time there, being the boss, making the dough, chuckling along with the teenage help, who he gets to meet and the muscle beach guys and life on the Venice Boardwalk and, you see, the whole shebang.
That’s what being a writer of a memoir is all about. I peeked at a page in my wife’s “in-progress” ‘moir and she was making a reference to her childhood at the San Diego Zoo and a cool relationship with something that happened then here in our Portland neighborhood just the other day – Wow!! My wife is dealing from the whole life deck apparently, which, this is my point, a memoir gets to be whatever the writer of that memoir wants it to be and readers everywhere get to rejoice in being able to read about all kinds of wicked far out personal histories and mysteries.
Between you and me – if I was to decide tomorrow I’d reached the point in this life where a memoir was not only called for by insanely necessary, I would pick to write my memoir about the Wareham River. That’s my hometown of Wareham, Massachusetts and one of the rivers – the biggest – in it and it dumps down out of Mill Pond, which me and my pal Donnie and tons of fishing tales would be in it, and it floats through town and behind downtown where my Dad was Editor and in front of one of the sections of town where lots of black people live, and I was way lucky to be friends and hang out with lots of those kids in school, and it flows into the water called Buzzards Bay and I will fill my Wareham River memoir with story after story about swimming at Parkwood Beach and Pinehurst Beach and Swifts Beach and being in boats water skiing and digging clams illegally on the Tempest Knob shore and living a fresh and salt brackish water river life as a kid. Yes, a kid and his river memoir. Maybe my ashes get scattered in it.
See. Memoirs are surely way cool. And unique.
About any of it.