These memoir memories resemble jigsaw pieces. In the past two years, I’ve emptied the puzzle of my life on a figurative card table. Now you’ve gathered with me around that table. We pick up a piece, examine it, and place it somewhere in the landscape of my life. Lower left corner. Upper right. A border piece. Smack dab in the middle.
Together, we view that picture as it emerges.
The individual pieces may seem haphazard. How do convent, Meniere’s, work, growing-up, and cat stories relate?
(Would I have stayed in the convent if cats had lived there with us? I've wondered about that. Picture a long-haired calico cat like Maggie with whom I now live. Watch her weave her way down the choir-chapel aisle as we chant Compline. The nuns gathered there try to suppress their laughter. It erupts into loud guffaws and we mangle the Latin. Maggie ignores us. She's ambling now for her fleece pillow in the sanctuary. Now that's contentment.)
I want to alert you that the color of these memoir memories will sometimes be dark; other times, light. I hope many stories will tickle your funny bone. For myself, some are poignant; others just strange. If you stick with me in this venture, you’ll get to read the whole shebang.
I hope you’ll gather often with me at this card table. I hope also that you’ll jog my memory by adding comments and asking questions about something I’ve mentioned that bemuses or intrigues you.
It’s apparent to me that my life choices frequently seem mistaken. But one wonder of growing older is being able to look back on a longer life. We get a chance to discover that what may once have felt like a bad choice turned out to be good. It’s all in definition and meaning.
Living in this new locale and facing months of illness have forced me—willy-nilly—to explore the arc of my life. Here’s the pot of gold: I’ve come home to myself. That is to say, I’ve embraced my whole life. I am who I am. Take it or leave it. I’ve taken it with a lightness of heart that surprises even me.
Walt Whitman wrote, “The words of my book nothing, the drift of it everything.” That Whitman knew metaphor.