Bittersweet Memories


Today I’m feeling nostalgic. I’ve been thinking about a writing project I started more than 10 years ago that I never finished. I don’t think I even wrote a whole chapter. In fact, I felt completely incapable of the task. I’m still not sure if I’m ready to tackle it.

I am a first-generation American. My mother is from Nicaragua, my father from Jamaica. They met in college in California and spent most of their married life in Ohio. I grew up in a small, all-white Catholic town called Russia. The locals called it Roo-she, so people wouldn’t get us confused with our cold war enemies. It’s close to Versailles (which we called Ver-Sales) and Houston (House-tun) and, well, maybe we just had a different way of talking there…

My parents died the year I turned 10. In Nicaragua. About a month before Sandanistas stormed the palace in Managua. My family had ties to the Samoza government, both favorable and unfavorable. My parents were getting along better than they had in a while, less arguing, more hand holding.

I know there’s a book in all this, it’s been begging to come out for years. But fear of painful memories has kept it buried, along with the fear of not being a good enough writer to tell the story in a compelling way.

Last night I finished reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. It’s a war story, a love story, a story about American families with foreign roots. It’s beautifully told and it touched a chord deep inside of me. I couldn’t sleep. All night long these ideas kept waking me, screaming at me to get off my ass write them down.

I haven’t yet, but I’m going to try. It’s a story that may never be on the shelves of a book store, but it’s a story I have to write for me, for my children.

So why am I so scared?