What do writers do but parse their own lives, combing for memories to melt down into words? It can never be otherwise because we can’t escape ourselves.
So we go coaxing aside filmy dirt on our excavation sites, small brush, please. See that jagged bone half-sticking up over to the left? That’s mine.
But this archeology is dangerous if we’re mothers because our children’s stories are also shimmering artifacts that lure us. After all, we reason, our kids’ lives are our lives, or used to be once. But we know this kind of disclosure is unfair, our literary urges notwithstanding. Especially when the children grow up, when they start to wear deodorant and talk in crackled octaves.
So we do our best to pry our eyes off their secrets, though they’re smudged with our fingerprints, and get about writing our own stories, stories where their shadows loom large, but we choose to look elsewhere.
So I won’t tell you what my son said last night when he saw that thieves had shattered the window of our van and stolen my purse. I’ll only tell you that when I saw the black shards of used-to-be tinted window now glittering gorgeously under a street lamp, I felt myself floating away.