About 2 weeks ago, I was invited to a book reading that was going on at the local high school. A friend from my mom’s group was going to see Andre Dubus III, the best-selling author of the “House of Sand and Fog”, do a reading from his new memoir “Townie.” It was a cold, windy night with freezing rain coming down and I thought to myself, “do I really want to go out in all this to hear a reading?” Apparently, my answer was yes. And I’m so glad I went.
Dubus was a great speaker and read from his memoir for about 25 minutes. He did a Q&A session afterwards, which he said is his favorite part of doing readings of his work. I thought the memoir sounded both interesting and tragic, much like his fiction, but the Q&A was just as interesting with people asking all sorts of questions about writing. His answers were enlightening for me as I’ve always played with the idea of writing a memoir. Questions like, where do you begin? Or, were you worried about your family’s reaction/feelings about your memoir? I’ve always been fascinated with writing, first as an avid reader and then later as a dabbler in the written word. So, to hear a successful published author speak about these things was truly captivating.
But just as much as it thrilled me, it also made me a little sad. Sad in a nostalgic kind of way. Because these were the things I did when I was younger. Before marriage and kids, when my life was filled with just work and friends and deep, intellectual thoughts, I went to book readings. I talked about books and writing with my peers. I dreamt big dreams and thought big thoughts. It reminded me of who I was when I was younger.
But it also made me think of all those women who always say they feel like having a child made them lose their identity. I’ve never felt that way, personally. I mean, I live a very different life now that I’m married with kids. But I’m still the same person I was before. Going to Dubus’s reading just reminded me that even though my life right now is filled up with thoughts about ear infections and potty training, grocery budgets and folding laundry, I am still capable of enjoying an intellectual conversation. My brain is still capable of thinking deep thoughts and dreaming big dreams. It’s nice to know this. One day, my kids will have moved out of the house and my life will, once again, be filled with just work and friends and deep, intellectual thoughts. My identity will be intact. But my life will have been enriched with all the new things I’ve learned about myself as a woman – all the things I’ve learned myself to be capable of doing, thinking, or just watching. (Because sometimes just watching, without jumping in and helping, is the toughest thing of all!) I will have come full circle by then, and, who knows?, maybe I’ll write that memoir after all.