Folks, here’s a sneak peak at the memoir I mentioned yesterday. I hope it doesn’t disappoint. Please be aware that it’s very much a work in progress, so as Donald Miller says, “forgive the rough patches. Here’s the writing in progress:”
I’m Alright: a Memoir of the Power of Little Words
I was born in an era of both promise, and tragedy. The world was just weeks away from seeing men walk on the moon, yet America was still deeply embroiled in the Vietnam War. It was the era of Woodstock, free love, and Stonewall. Nixon was president.
In short, it was a time not terribly unlike our own.
It was 1969. As Dickens had so aptly said a over a century before, “It was the best of times, it was worst of times.”
And it was into this time that I was born. Into a world full of both hope, and despair.
The occasion of my birth caused no little despair for my parents, as I arrived–mewling and messy–some six weeks early. I came into the world weighing in at five pounds four-and-a-half ounces. As babies do, I lost weight after my birth–dropping under five pounds. I was not allowed to go home with my parents until I had gained back the loss, and then some.
If my initial cries were not lusty, they were unusual; instead of the “wah” sound one normally associates with newborns, mine were predicted upon the “L” sound: “lah, lah.” Or so I’ve been told.
I was also different in another way: I was born with a concentric ring around my left thumb that persists to this day. At the time, doctors speculated that perhaps the cord had wrapped around it in utero, or it had–for some reason–suddenly stopped, and then just as suddenly started, growing. In any case, people ask if I wrapped something around it as a child, or whether it was reattached subsequent to an accident. Neither of those is the case, but I did show it to my own daughter, in an attempt to get her to stop sucking her thumb, telling her “Daddy used to suck his thumb, and it fell off. Doctors had to put it back on.” For a second, a split-second, I thought it would work; then she said “Tell the truth, daddy. Your thumb didn’t come off, did it?” This from a five year-old.
She, and her brother, keep her mother and I on our toes. Much as I’m sure my brother and I kept our parents on their toes thirty or more years earlier.
In fact, I know this is true.
My earliest memory is of a nun playing piano in a cold room. My mother tells me I attended a Montessori school, one run by nuns, when I was very young. Had I known, at the time, what a penguin was, I’m sure that’s what I would’ve equated those sisters with: giant penguins. Giant piano-playing penguins. Lord knows, if my recollection is true, that it was cold enough for penguins.
Of course, it was Pennsylvania in winter, and I was two.
It wasn’t too long after this that I was introduced to that fateful phrase that has shaped my life to this day: “I’m alright.” We because close companions, it and me, as you’ll see.
As you can see, I don’t have any problems being brief. And that may in fact be my biggest problem. How would you flesh the foregoing out were it your story? Is it engaging enough to hold your interest for about 200 pages? Have I given you enough of a sample to answer that?