I am taking a memoir class right now, and memoir teachers are always going for the bone, the inner story, the marrow of your despair. Why? Because no one wants to read about your happy picnics with the whole family on the banks of the Yangtze River, the times you all smiled and laughed and gave each other presents. No one wants to know about the years and years of happy walks in the redwood forests of Washington State, where your mother told you her whole calm life story, quietly and cleanly, and then told you how much she loved you. No one wants to read about your sisters and how you all got along so well during those years you worked on the family farm in Iowa, where no one got run over by the thresher and no one ever ran away with the twisted farmhand that held you all by gunpoint in the barn for six days.
So we started with regret, and here is some of what I wrote.
Regret is a lonely, bad friend, that evil gal pal who likes to come into your room at night or find you in dark closets or show up when there is too much space in the air. Regret comes to me now and again, when I am expecting it and when I am not. I regret so many things. Stupid things. Important thing. Little things. Big things. I regret things I’ve said to my children, my students, my family, and I regret the dress I wore to school last Thursday, the one that my boyfriend Michael said looked like a party dress. Yes, I saw his point later after I recovered from his insult. Worse yet, I was wearing tights and shiny black patent leather shoes. How cute.
How bad I must have looked, standing in front of the class that day. Hi, Regret. Yes, I don’t like the dress any more, either.
I regret having to hurt my now ex-husband when I left him. I could have been smoother and smarter and more thoughtful. I regret having left and then gone back because I was scared. That was selfish and stupid. This regret comes upon me at quiet moments. I regret slapping my son when he was four. We were both tired and young, though I should have been smarter and wasn’t. I regret leaving my other son alone at night when I was first separated and first dating, even though he was eighteen. I regret the way I taught when I first started teaching, the things I didn’t know and the things I taught that weren’t useful. I regret all the bad food I ate. Like Burger King and Taco Bell and McDonalds.
So I try to stop regretting. I try to keep from meeting up with regret in the darkness. I hate regret. She’s a waste of time. She is not worth thinking about, but I think about her and I regret that, too. Jessica
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org