I gulp as I say this, Puritan girl that I am: I wrote this memoir, in part, for my own pleasure—and in celebration. Writing the life, after living it, as memoirist Patricia Hampl says, is to live it twice. It is: to swim in the pleasure of a past world, to don again an old happy, and sometimes miserable, self. It offers a tingling comfort similar to that of discovering the shabby, long-forgotten, favorite sweater you used to wear on walks with your father in the Black Forest, or coming across an old pair of story-and-mud-encrusted shoes you wore back in Japan days. All this, while writing my memoir, felt guilty, almost too sweet, like a stolen pleasure, an illicit gift to myself. But for me, it was a vital way to have something to hold onto, like a still life of arranged fruit, from out of my crazy, zig-zagging childhood. My hope, of course, was that my pleasure–and I don’t mean only happiness—if conveyed with enough lusciousness, would become the reader’s.
This pleasure-taking was, too, a kind of celebration. I wrote to celebrate the very boon of having been given life.