I’ve been through some hard times, endured some hard things, and these experiences have given me a story. A story I’d like to tell.
I’m like everyone. Everyone has hard times, everyone has a story, though not everyone has the desire to write theirs, although I’m told it’s an official form of therapy and your psychologist may ask you to write down your tale whether you want to or not. For some people instead of writing about their struggles, they desire to paint their troubles, others to play music, that’s how the best songs end up coming from a broken heart. For me, in the last few years, the desire to write my story wells up often from somewhere deep inside me. It’s just that every time I try to tell it, which has been often, as I start to write, my throat closes and my heart stops and my temples throb. I can’t breathe, I can’t see, I can’t write. It must be too soon for me to write about the raw, as well as the seasoned, grief I feel if the very thought of writing it down about kills me. I only get as far as the titles (if book titles are any indication I have several books in me that are not coming out) and writing down a few of the chapter names before I feel like wretching. The books have titles like The Cousin Archipeligo and The Doonerist’s Spaughter with various and sundry chapters in each called things like Pukeing In Iceland, Jesus at the Bank, Mohamed of the Airport, Pardon our Dust, Crying Unaware, The Refrigerator Memo, etc. Beyond this paltry start I can not write without getting the shakes and feeling unwell. So, for now, I’m giving myself some grace – some permission to save writing down that particular story or stories of mine until sometime later, somewhere down the line, hopefully when the nausea subsides.
But that doesn’t alleviate the fact that I still want to write. Just not about me.
Here’s something no one knows about me that I can write down right now because it’s oddly inspiring me to write fiction while I catch my breath for writing memoir.
For the last few years I have gone to cemetaries alone.
I have no one to visit that I know of interred in these places of rest that I visit but I go nonetheless because, well, I can sob in public and it’s legal. This is why no one knows about this ’til now. Many, many times I’ve been the only one around. I look down and read the grave markers of strangers but I cry for the people I’ve lost.
I don’t know when during these visits I started wondering what the people whose names I was reading did or why some don’t have first names and what the lone J.E.M stood for on the tiny marker by a tree.
I started inventing a back story to the ones that piqued my interest. And then one day at a small, tiny cemetary in a town I travel through regularly to go antiquing I noticed two markers with similar names and dates but in wholly different parts of the cemetary. Did they know each other? They were 7 years apart in age, so they would not have been school chums but maybe they both sang in the same church choir?
And then it happened.
I started writing their story in my head almost without realizing it. So I decided to give myself a writing challenge, something to cut my teeth on while I wait to be able to write my own story, I would go take photos of the two markers that caught my imagination and then I’d go antiquing as usual only this time with a purpose, to find a vintage portrait that had no name, of an unknown soul that could be one of my marker friends and an item, a thing that could have belonged to the other person and use them to tell a story. A story of how they lived.
It’s a challenge. But one that doesn’t make me sick to my stomach.
I can’t wait for you to meet them.