Mercy! I’m dancing, in my office in front of my laptop, crying. Like, the good kind. I have just watched this masterpiece, https://pamhouston.net/events, a Pam Houston book event in 2019 for her memoir, Deep Creek. I stumbled upon it when I sought out a bit of memoir validation after my Big Moment in which I felt supported and heard, yet the novelists got the Big Break.
“Why the fuck should we care about some fictitious character?” Cheryl Strayed says when defending the genre for the bashing it gets as we share our secrets and intimate stories. The ones we are told not to tell, and if told, could help those feeling isolated. Thanks, Lidia Yuknavitch. I know my fan-girling is on full display while I am pulling myself up to this table, but it feels okay. I nod in knowing that my story, too, is about how I “show generosity to my parent while holding him account.” (more Cheryl, thank you.) Pam reminds us of our other parents, the rivers, and mountains, and the ocean, which claimed me from afar and dragged me West, answering a call from beyond and within me.
“Who would I have been?” Lidia asks. And I nod, and cry, baptized by these goddesses I have read, and listened to, and joined in moments of connection in a writers workshop. But not quite like this. Not to answer my need – right now – to trust the truth path, the one that makes us see ourselves so clearly it gives others permission. Making us truth-tellers for a living.
I was undone when Lidia read, “If you live long enough, you quit chasing things that hurt you.” Oh, Pam. And if you’re lucky, you start following the things that heal, which you have, like a pioneer. When Pam talks about being a mentor, I know she is breathing the same air as my fairy-goddaughter, Garnet, on Vashon Island, who I met when she was the beautiful embodiment of grief and strength. It warms my heart to imagine you at adjacent tables at Cafe Luna.
I nod when Lidia says we are birthing new men, grateful for mine, and all of ours who see us. Especially the ones who come from us. My heart skips a beat when Cheryl says Pam sent a note that she “Loves this fucking book” after reading a draft of Wild, and makes me believe a champion for my book is alive and waiting to read it.
Until then, I will keep going back to the well, keep making it better, putting it in the hands of those who have come before me. Who know truth.
If you are a writer – WATCH THIS. If you are a woman – WATCH THIS. If you are a human – WATCH THIS.
Thank you for your beautiful book, Pam. But this night? I wanted a time machine to be in this room with the three of you. Thank you all. ❤