If you haven’t read my essay, and you’re interested, here is a link to Connotation Press-An Online Artifact that will bring you to editor Robert Clark Young, and to my essay, “A Smirnoff and Coke.” http://connotationpress.com/creative-nonfiction
I wanted to use this blog entry to write a few thoughts about the piece and address some of the Facebook comments from my readers.
My mother is still alive and continues to live in my house. She’ll be 82 early next year. Shortly after that, I turn 50. Living with my elderly mother at age 50 is not exactly how I dreamed up my life, but this is how it is.
The incident I relay in the essay is nearly five years old. She hasn’t had a drink since that night, and perhaps not remarkably, many of her conditions, and most especially her anemia, have improved. As of her last blood test, her anemia was non-existent. She must have drunk a lot of vodka in her day to make her that sick and to have such a positive effect on her health when she finally stopped drinking.
This essay is one I hope my mother never sees, because I don’t want her hurt by it. There’s a good chance she will never read the piece, because she doesn’t know how to use the internet very well, nor does she have the curiosity to explore too deeply to find out the things her daughter really does, thinks, or is. She sees what she needs to see and no more.
Robin H. and Jacqueline W. commented that they could relate to alcoholism in the family, because they, too, had experienced similar family circumstances. Robin H said this must have been a hard piece for me to write. Truly, it was harder to experience, Robin. Writing is my way of dealing with my life and circumstances. Telling stories, attempting to turn those stories to “art” (if I work hard enough at the writing) is very healing. So, the piece was not hard to write in that sense, although writing itself is a difficult process. So many drafts, so many revisions. And still, I see places where I could have strengthened the language!
Robin R, you said that you laughed and cried, and that’s good, because there is something darkly humorous about the situation, the dialogue, etc. You pointed out, too, that in our neighborhood, behind closed doors, families were breaking down all over, even though it looked like the family next door was perfect. Yours looked perfect to me and perhaps mine looked perfect to you. Your mother was one of my surrogate mothers, one of my godsends, and I wished I could live with your family, except when it came to the number of cookies I could get at my house versus yours. I agree that “Bay Road Kids,” could be a book about what suburbia really was, not what it appeared to be, in the 1960s and 1970s.
Bonnie, you said that you remember my mother and her warmth, always smiling, always welcoming to my friends when we lived in Knollsbrook. I want to assure you that she was, indeed, all those things you remember. She was (and is) a very nice woman, but she drank. And it was hard.
Tracy, I’m so happy that my writing is something you can read and relate to, that it helps you to view your own personal circumstances in a slightly different way. There’s no greater compliment to a writer than knowing her work has helped someone see something anew.
Elissa, what can I say, you are one of my strongest advocates when it comes to my writing life and I don’t know what I’d do without you – as my advocate and as my friend. I’m glad you think so well of this piece. As a writer, I’ve never been crazy about this piece, although several people tell me it’s strong and well done. I like my essay, “Claudia Songs,” but so far, no takers on that one. It’s funny how hard it is to judge our own work sometimes. Thank you for always being so strongly supportive of my work and life. I hope I am that supportive of yours, too.
Thanks, everyone, for reading and commenting. I will likely have another blog entry soon on an entirely different topic.