This is a lovely memoir piece, in rough draft form, written by one of my students. She wrote it in response to a weekly prompt, which was "Wilderness" - to be interpreted any way your mind wanted. Kathy, the author, didn't know it was going to come out this way - at all! The surprise makes for juicy, invigorating memoir writing.
This line is so powerful: "Two secret, or rather undiscovered parts of myself - pulled to the surface by this magnetic force."
The poet and lesbian part both being seen as wild, as undiscovered parts, simultaneously emerging, inter-dependent.Both have what she calls in the last line:
the courage required in any wilderness...a synthesis of all the feelings and forces named above. Courage to step into this other place knowing it’s unlikely I’d be able to completely return.
This is powerful rough draft, and full of many places for her to discover/open up themes/enrich.
Thanks to Kathy for her courage to share in class and now online!
It was a very hot summer night sitting on cushions in Kirby’s living room trying to stay alert while listening to the mini-life stories of the dozen or so women who surprisingly all wanted to join our group. The group was a conscious raising group and we needed new blood, new members, but not twelve of them.
She was one of the last to talk and suddenly I was awake without effort. I felt pulled without any idea why. A very intense pull. Her story, interesting but not exceptional, her looks intense but not beautiful.
This felt familiar. It gradually dawned on me that this was how I felt with with one or two of the deep loves of my life so far. But those loves, and the more minor ones also, were all men.
This was really unexpected. Somehow she was one of the two women chosen, or perhaps who chose us. I’m not sure if I played a roll in that choice or not.
I went home frightened but oddly excited. Confused. I felt lost, almost like that time I was really lost - or thought I was - while at the cottage. Just as in those woods, panic began to submerge me.
I told myself to calm down. Nothing had happened. Nothing needed to happen. But I knew that this was a lie.
This woman had mentioned being a lesbian, but certainly it was more than that. Madison was full of lesbians - many newly minted. She was also a writer, a poet - that was as big a part as that word lesbian. Two secret, or rather undiscovered parts of myself - pulled to the surface by this magnetic force.
Something more would happen. Perhaps I was glad, perhaps more scared, but I knew mysteriously that this was the case. The pull begun with her on the other end just felt like that.
As this energy became part of my life it continued to be scary, at least partly; and it was absolutely wild, a kind of wilderness as much as space exploration or perhaps cosmic adventures on LSD. It was just as exciting and energizing, a new kind of energy.
Somehow the courage required in any wilderness boiled up - a synthesis of all the feelings and forces named above. Courage to step into this other place knowing it’s unlikely I’d be able to completely return.