This morning I awakened at four, as is not uncommon for me. I rolled over and thought happy thoughts, took a few deep belly breathes and fell back asleep, only to reawaken two hours later with a vivid nightmare shaking me by the shoulders.
Writing the Nightmares
When I attended The Magic of Memoir conference in Oakland CA two weeks ago, I was witness to a lot of amazing stories told by brave, wounded, survivor writers. It made me realize that writers with those kinds of memories are more likely to write about them—in memoir or as the basis for fiction—than the fortunate souls who leaned back and pumped their swings higher and higher into blue skies and fluffy white clouds.
Last night I was reading one such story and it combined with my personal memories to produce this morning’s nightmare in full living color. (I don’t often dream in color.)
The content is not so important. I wanted to forget it quickly—but I haven’t. I could tell you about the multiple layers of the dream—but I won’t.
Instead I’d rather tell you about where my mind wandered after that.
I clicked open the piece that I’m fine-tuning for The Lit(erature) Lounge storytelling event next Sunday at the Open Space for Arts and Community on Vashon Island, WA. It’s partly about my grandmother Mémère. My chain of thought this morning went something like this. Not the writing piece, just the musing. I’ve left out the punctuation. Ha. Too many apostrophes.
Memoir. It sounds French, but it isn’t spelled French. We spell armoire with the e, so why not memoir with the e? If it were, we’d be spelling it memoire. Our memories. Another inconsistency of the English language.
Memoire of Mémère.
Mémoire. Like armoire. An armoire is a chest. And isn’t a memoir like a chest? A chest of memories?
Except that armoires were originally used to store weapons. Memoire then is not so far-fetched, since doesn’t a memoir-née-memoire also store weapons?”
Writing the Nightmares
As I read the memoir last night, I thought of the woman who wrote it, who lives here on this island. Another survivor walking around with a smile on her face in the midst of all these other survivors walking around with smiles on their faces.
Because we all survive something.
It might not be the stuff of memoirs, but it’s another layer that has made us who we are. If we’re lucky—and we can make our own luck—we get to put it behind us and let the good days, the now days, the tomorrow days, outshine the nightmares.
Once we have finished writing the nightmares, we’ll be on the other side, ready to pump our swings higher and higher into the blue skies and fluffy clouds.