Friday, October 28, 2005

"You are my Fifth Avenue"

I went up to school today, for a workshop led by Mary Karr -- whose presence made me slip into a repressed Southern accent and aspire to use bad language -- and I learned some things. She said, "Voice -- a narrator's -- is made up of these: diction, syntax and tone." She said, "The whole point of memoir-writing is to reflect." She said, "Write from the beginning." She said, "I think, all the time, I am thinking about the reader. What does the reader know? What does the reader need to know?"
She said, "The part of yourself that you are most ashamed of will do whatever it can to keep you from writing the truth."

Afterwards, I checked out a book she'd mentioned called Remembering Satan, about police officers is Olympia, Washington who, after their daughters accused them, admitted to having molested them. Confessed in detail to ordeals involving disrobing and rape and accidental pregnancy and arranging abortions. But the truth is that none of it had ever happened. So, the question is, why did these men confess?

And from the library, I stepped outside into the cold and answered my vibrating phone, heard Robert's voice and all of a sudden, I wasn't okay with all this pretending-to-be-so-cool-and-compassionate anymore. I felt angry and betrayed. I felt, "How could you do this?"

Robert is on a plane now, coming to New York, and he will arrive at this apartment just as I am leaving for St. Louis to visit my sister. I'm happy I won't be here this weekend because I don't trust myself not to sleep with him, not to fall back into these happy patterns, and the truth is that I'm not ready to do that yet. I just went out with Suzie, down the block to Supper, for glasses of red wine and Postal Service and Tori Amos playing on the speakers, and I said, "In our lives, we are going to fall in love with other people."

When I think about not being with Robert, I feel something drop out from beneath my feet, I am so afraid of not loving him with everything I have. But when I think about being with him now -- when I think about putting on that sad ring -- there is a voice in my head that says, "Sarah? Sarah. You can do better than this."


Blogger Unsane said...

When I wrote my autobiography I had no idea what the reader knew and what they didn't. Actually I had SOME idea. The reader thought we were Racist. Apart from that, I didn't know what their rference points for "normalcy" were. Actually I was a victim of many Australian's ideas of "normalcy" which I had fallen short of. And yet I still didn't have any specific idea of what I had fallen short of or why. I wrote my autobio. to find this out.

7:42 PM  

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