It was my final writing piece of my senior writing seminar. I was starting a memoir. Nearly a decade later I still haven’t finished it. But even at the time I wondered whether it was too soon. How could I write about a life that had barely begun? But those first three chapters came together. They were vulnerable and painful. Not because I had no other stories to tell, but because those were the ones I need to. So I wrote them in blood and tears. But then the semester came to an end and I had to present something. To the class, to the assembled friends, family and professors. It was a smaller group than usual, since we were the atypical group, graduating in December rather than May, some of us early, others late. All of us trying to cross this final milestone towards the life that comes after higher education.
I selected the piece that I thought carried the best ending and left me the least exposed. The others were too raw still. The pain too recent. In this one, the events were recent, but the hope was palpable. Even as I look back at it now, I can grab onto my thesis like a lifeline. Peace doesn’t just happen. We have to chase it, fight for it and refuse to lose it. Joy doesn’t just find us. We need to look for it, encourage it and enter into it wherever and whenever it will be found.
A decade later my life looks so different from what I imagined standing at the lectern during one of my first public readings of my work. But the words are still true. As I cuddle my children a little harder, clasp my husband’s hand as we sit on the couch together, I try to remember, that this is what I’ve been looking for. Don’t miss it.