As far back as I can remember, it seems, someone has asked me, "When are you going to write this all down?" or "When are you going to write the story of your life." Throughout my childhood, this single task loomed over me: some magnificent yet horrifying responsibility owed to the world around me. For many years, I obsessively jotted down the notes, impressions, sketches, and character analyses which were sure, in my mind, to comprise this great work.
Before I knew it, I was too swept up in living the chapters of my life to record them; still, the notes were meticulously kept. And, when nearly twenty years worth of notebooks, journals, and carefully collected research--the sum total of my identy--were forever lost, recollecting those mountains of data seemed to me an impossible task.
Just thinking about it would leave me stone-to-the-bone tired.
This past week, however, I was asked to sign a contract to publish my "memoirs." My initial reaction? Who would want to read about me? Afterwards? "That would be a whole lot of freakin' work. Am I up to it?" And finally, "Which part of my story would I tell?" In my mind, my life falls neatly into five distinct stages (not counting the present), each of which represents a distinct volume to be written. Could I, in my state of health and with all the insanity surrounding my current existence, even hope to take on such an endeavor? Especially with the constant hindrance of oxygen-deprivation to the brain, which often leaves me struggling to remember the simplest things (like why did I come into the kitchen again? or what was I just saying?)
Then--now, in fact--I found myself facing another major medical crisis. As I lay day after day struggling with the matter, the debate--to write or not to write--raged on in my head.
I encountered a real scare.
Now I know that if I do not tackle this project now, I might not have the chance again.
So,the process of "penning" the first of five volumes of my autobiography has begun. Whether time or its ever ebbing tides will allow me to complete it, I cannot even guess. (At this point, I am not even sure if I'll sign that infernal contract!) Even so, this resolve to at least put forth my best, most concentrated effort has cemented as bullheaded determination within the walls of my iron will.
I've actually included excerpts from this work as it exists thus far.
Wish me luck, ya'll!
Where The Honeysuckles Grow
(The Childhood Recollections of Chanctetinyea J.J. Ouellette)
...I have lived my life behind thick, impregnable walls, clamoring for the touch of unobstructed sun, wondering when the invisible gates would part, and I would be able to take that first tentative step outside them....
I often wondered about life beyond those unseen walls, about the people who lived unimprisoned, about the children ran freely beneath the yellow-white glare of the sun. Why were they free? And what had I done—what did I house inside my deepest self—which left me too grotesque, too evil, too distorted somehow to be let loose among them....
Most clearly, I remember the scent of honeysuckles, new-mown grass, and that strange, metallic anticipation of one day--some day--escaping them both....