As I previously noted, I’ve been out west visiting my father as well as our older son and his family. I used many of the notes I made on the plane ride west to ask my father all sorts of clarifying questions like, “Where was the building for Junior Rifle Club meetings? How many rounds did we fire at each target? Did I have my own gun or share one with Robin? What year was the second car we had there?”

Along with the spiral notebook I took to hold my thoughts along the way, my bank of memories is filling up, and thankfully, a sense of focus is emerging. I am exploring the idea of examining my formative years from the context of now to show the roots of certain preferences and attitudes. I probably won’t take this tack, but exploring the possibilities is enlightening. It’s also fascinating to realize that many things I used to consider liabilities now appear as assets.

The amount of work needed to simply process all these insights and develop a sense of direction before returning to writing draft copy seems staggering. How will I organize my material? By theme? By chronology?

I intend to reread Annie Dillard’s memoir, An American Childhood. Also A Girl Called Zippy by Haven Kimmel, and Miss New York Has Everything by Lori Jakiela. If I remember correctly, these memoirs include clusters of calendar jumping memories while loosely following chronology overall.

I’m also still cogitating on finding the balance between growing up in Los Alamos and simply growing up. What is unique to place? What experiences did I share in common with people growing up other places in that era? And what was unique to my family and me? How should I handle these differences?

The end seems so far away, but the journey is exciting. One day at a time…

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