I had the best day today. I laughed. And I was allowed to be myself, no judgment passed. Why, oh, why can’t we find that in everyday life more often?
I spent the afternoon with Miss Michelle cooking, editing, and walking the boardwalk in Virginia Beach. We inhaled Greek food of fried zucchini and grape leaves at a small, Greek restaurant on the beachfront. While at the restaurant, Michelle taught me how to “read” the grounds of Greek coffee. She worked in a Greek restaurant years ago. After the coffee is consumed, you turn the coffee cup upside down and spin only the cup (not the saucer) three times. When you turn the cup back over, the grounds will show a picture. What it “shows” is up to the reader.
We saw two very different things. Michelle observed a sea turtle. I saw a man falling. When she looked again, she agreed with me. She saw a man falling on rocks by the sea. But I saw a man falling in front of two cars, one of them new. He was chased by a dog—or a flying monkey; I couldn’t tell. (She recorded this!)
We observed the passers-by and beach goers. She showed me the beach playground for “everyone” created especially for the handicapped children of Virginia Beach, and of course, we worked on our memoirs.
Writing a memoir is tricky. What do you leave out? Where do you elaborate? What shouldn’t be shared? What is considered private and what has to become public? I’ve found I duck down and breeze over the parts that are raw and difficult to write; the memories that haven’t healed, the paragraphs that cause pain. Michelle does this too, but not as often. Writing the truth demands working through the memories, sometimes causing tears and things we’d rather avoid.
Michelle calls me out on this every time. She’s familiar enough with my writing to recognize when I hide. She’s brave enough to tell me. But the reason we’re writing our memoirs at such a young age (35 and 41) is because we have lived unconventional lives and survived to tell the stories. We haven’t reached our happy endings because we haven’t reached the end yet. We’re still living and still have so much life to live. But we’ve survived one part of the story.
Sometimes I feel calling each other out is the most important part of the editing. Line edits, misspellings, and grammar are minor compared to the fact of not telling the story because we are afraid, because we aren’t quite ready to face the truth yet, because we simply do not want to relive it—all over again. But the lessons we’ve learned and the relate-able stories we’re sharing are heartbreaking and real. I think if just one young girl can be helped by what we say, by what we’ve lived, by the fact that we have overcome, then we’ve won. Victory will be ours.
We push one another to write the truth. Today, she reached her hand into the tunnel. “Come out here and quit hiding,” she said. Other days, I push her. Things aren’t as scary in the bright light of truth when you have a friend beside you.
How can you ever thank someone for giving you the courage to tell the truth?
This week Michelle taught me how to make chicken soup. She’d never made it in the crockpot before. Originally we wanted to make turkey soup but the store didn’t carry the turkey legs, so Michelle bought chicken quarters instead. She boiled the meat for hours until it fell off the bone. She picked out all the undesirables, bones, and bits you can’t eat and skimmed the blood off the top. The next day, we added whatever was in the fridge to the chicken and stock–onion, carrots, celery, corn, and potatoes. (A few of each). The potatoes take so long to cook, you might want to nuke them for just a few minutes in the microwave first. Add preferred seasoning. We used salt, pepper, basil, and poultry seasoning. It smells de-lish and the broth is wonderful!