Thinking About Memoir
Thomas's small book Thinking About Memoir explains
how flexible the approach to the memoir can be. It can
span an entire life or it can consist of selected memories
along life's journey. I prefer the selected memories.
a writing teacher, assigns her students writings based
on certain situations. Two examples taken at random
are Write two pages of whatever you remember about something
being born and Write two pages of a fading memory—something
you have to squint to see.
book is divided into sections but like most writing
one section leaks into another section. But the most
powerful aspect of the book is the burst of memories
that emerge as one reads the remarks on the assignments.
This is where the leaks occur. An event, not necessarily
related to the assignment, come rushing back.
I read, two events under the heading “things I
regret I didn't do” came to mind—not taking
advantage of R&R when I was in Vietnam—but
that will have to wait for another writing. The one
I will include is about missing both my junior and senior
prom in high school.
THEY WEREN'T MY PROMS
went to the prom this past week. I was thinking how
ironic it was that thirty years ago during this very
week I didn't go to “my” prom. Oh, I have
done several proms since I have been teaching. But doing
a prom as a faculty member is not the same as going
as a student. If any of my classmates have two proms,
give mine back. You are allowed one per student.
you are around a school or if you are the parents of
a high school junior or senior, you know the kind of
week they have. They act like teenagers all week and
get by with it. Some people say the students are bonding.
Well, I'm in favor of bonding, but I can't remember
one thing about prom week. What did I do that week?
Memorize the periodic chart or learn the square root
of all numbers from one to a hundred. Now, I want the
whole week back—not just prom night but the whole
week. I know things are basically the same as back then.
Well, we didn't mortgage the house to get that are now
deemed necessities (maybe it was because we didn't have
a house to mortgage) and we didn't build the event up
to such high expectations that it could never deliver.
After all, when all is said and done, it is just a dance.
But it is a special dance—one that has to last
for a lifetime. I didn't get mine. I want it back. Someone
has my junior prom and I want it back.
can remember some special times when Glenda Morgan,
Kennith Akers and I did the junior prom. One time we
had the prom at the lodge, and we took a group of kids
to decorate. We went to Druthers for lunch and the kids
gathered and around and called us “mommy”
and “daddy” and we all signed the napkins
and generally we were having a good time. I have photos
from the 70's. 80's and 90's, but I want the ones from
the 60's. I bet the Fonz went to his prom.
all these years this has been “no big deal.”
Now it is a big deal. Is there such a thing as staute
of limitations on getting your junior prom back? How
do you tell your children you didn't go to the prom?
That would be like telling them you didn't fight in
the war. That brings up a point: why didn't I go my
prom? Didn't have anything to wear. Couldn't have been
that because I didn't have anything to wear last week
and I went. It wasn't spectacular. It doesn't need to
know this is a little late to bring this up, but I really
do want my junior prom back. I thought being being faculty
sponsor for the prom for four years or so would make
up for it—it didn't. And now I down to the point
where I probably won't be doing that chore anymore.
I remember honor banquets, senior trip, and graduation.
There is a big vacuum in my whole package of rite to
as you go through school, do the whole nine yards or
as many of them as you possibly can. They won't be earth
shattering (and again they may), but you will have them.
I am reminded of what Billie Jean Osborne was always
telling her students: “Go for it.” Go for
it and years later you won't be wondering what it would
have been like. In the meantime, if you find my junior
prom, send it to me.