To even write those words is odd, taking me back to a time when every little girl of a certain generation was presented with a little white or pink diary trimmed with gold with a tiny padlock and a matching key. Privacy was packaged in gilt. Even then it may have been an illusion. Parents’ prying eyes could find the key as easily as a child at a Passover seder could find the afikomen. But still, it was well before the time of the web, and Facebook, and photos of here’s-what-I-made-for-dinner-last-night, interspersed with ritual beheadings and murders in malls that go viral in an instant.
But I digress.
It’s been months, actually years now, since I’ve had the impulse to write whether for me, an audience of one, or for you, whoever you might be.
And it’s not that there haven’t been things to write about. But what could I say about those things? I thought that my father would live to be 100. And he didn’t. More precisely, I thought that I would always have the benefit of his kind, loving, all-knowing presence. And now I don’t. I thought he was in fine health. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. I thought that there would be some relief from the constant anxiety of worrying when I couldn’t reach him by phone. But there isn’t. I thought I would feel free to pursue my own life, but I haven’t.
The urge to write, to make something of myself, seems to have been displaced by the urge to make pottery. There it’s so easy to see how we repeat ourselves endlessly, until we stop. And perhaps a computer program could be devised to see how our pens (or fingers tapping keyboards) trace the same grooves and delineate the same contours as well. And those programs would throw some faint light on the brain that traced those grooves. But for now, the writing process is more opaque, and its meaning more controversial. I have never written to incite, for example, and to the extent that you could say that I’ve done so to soothe myself, to smooth away the wrinkles on an otherwise fine day, I have failed utterly. Writing has never soothed anything. But there is, even now, when the hope of becoming a successful writer has faded, an urge to talk to myself. To keep a record of the dialogue, or monologue as the case may be, to be able to refer to it later perhaps, to trace the journey.
This, then, is Day 1 in a new journey: Life after Dad.
I have survived the worst.