Memoir Excerpt

in #memories10 months ago

I am five weeks into a thirteen week class about writing one's memoirs. It is a free class offered by one of the local libraries. So I've been writing a great deal, but not posting much here on Steemit. Today I will post a segment of my memoir writings, after doing some editing to anonymize it. I question whether anyone is going to read this and recognize themselves, but you never know.


The moving truck was loaded. I went through the empty house twice, picking up little leftover odds and ends. I wrote in my diary, “It still doesn’t seem real that we won’t live there any more. The creek, the trees, the flowers - they were my home so long that I can’t stop loving them at any given instant.” Our destination was that piece of property my parents had bought in Montana. Daddy had already built the workshop, and that is where we lived for the first year. He hadn’t gotten around to digging the outhouse yet, so for several days we used the various trenches that had been dug for electrical and plumbing. The foundation was in place for our house, but it was several months before we could run over there to use the bathroom in the basement.

Montana was truly the Big Sky Country! From our spot on a little rise to the east of town we could see for miles in three directions, but, to the east, the foothills of a majestic mountain range were barely a mile away. Through all those rainy years in western Washington, Mama had told us in Montana it only rained in June and September. You can be sure we teased her the first time it rained in July!

I missed our old creek, but now we had a little pond with the occasional muskrat or wild ducks, and I soon learned to love the songs of the meadowlarks, red-winged blackbirds, and kildeer. Instead of being surrounded by woods, we now lived out in the open; there wasn’t one tree on our ten acres.

My sister and I set up our bedroom in the blue canvas tent just outside the shop. We slept in our sleeping bags, sometimes with bright moonlight outside, sometimes with an exciting thunderstorm echoing in the mountains, and sometimes with frost on the ground. We carried water from the pond for cooking and hand washing, but got our drinking water from a neighbor. Baths were accomplished in a small tin washtub, and hair was washed in a large kettle on the counter. Once a week we drove into town and took showers at the home of gracious friends from church. Sometimes we washed our hair in the big sink at the laundromat while using the washing machines. Personal grooming was of great importance to us two teenage girls, and minor inconveniences like no running water simply had to be overcome.

My new high school seemed smaller than my first high school, but I soon learned that was because many of the classes were held in nearby buildings. I quickly found my way around and soon made friends. There was an unexpected advantage to starting fresh in a new school system: nobody knew any of my older siblings, so nobody had preconceived notions about how I should act. I could just be myself, and was accepted as such. Mostly, this was a wonderful situation, but now and then it caused me some consternation. The precedent set by my older sisters at our old school was “nobody asks a girl from that family out on a date, certainly not to Homecoming or to the prom.” The Montana boys didn’t know about that rule, and "Stan" asked me to the Homecoming dance barely six weeks after school started. I admired him, but didn’t know him very well, and was astonished by the invitation. I told him I didn’t go to dances, which was true enough up to that point, but I was secretly thrilled to have been asked.

Fast forward to April, when another boy, "Max," asked me to the Prom. Again, I was completely astonished! And I didn’t know what to say. There were obstacles to be overcome: First, the astonishment of having been asked. Second, I had told Stan I didn’t go to dances, yet a very silly part of my brain kept hoping he would try one more time and ask me to the prom. Third, I didn’t have a formal to wear. Fourth, my mother had always discouraged us girls from going to dances, apparently because it was going to lead us down the slippery slope to moral destruction.

I was a people pleaser, and didn’t want to upset my mother by going to the prom, even though I really wanted to go. I was fond of Max, although I didn’t have a big crush on him. I didn’t want to disappoint him or my mother, which left me quite torn. In the end, he took me out to an early dinner on prom night, and he took another girl to the prom because he had already ordered the tux before I said “no.” But the next year he escorted me to our Senior Prom. By then, we all had gotten to know him better, and Mama had decided I wasn’t going straight from the Prom to Hell.


That's really interesting and well written. I don't know if you need those classes at all:)

Awwww, that's so kind of you! There actually isn't a great deal of instruction. The teacher gave us some guidelines, and a book to help us get to thinking, and turned us loose. Each week we read aloud to the class something we wrote, and it's fascinating to learn what interesting lives some folks have lived. Hearing others' stories has really encouraged me to keep writing about my life. I think we all just needed the structure of the class and the encouragement of the teacher and each other to get us started.

There was an unexpected advantage to starting fresh in a new school system: nobody knew any of my older siblings, so nobody had preconceived notions about how I should act.

I'd never thought of that aspect, nor would it have applied since I had 9 older siblings; I think I would have had to move to another nation for that reaction to show up ha ha...
I wish there were some place near here that gave this sort of lesson @scribblingramma
I liked your story very much

Thank you for taking the time to read it!

Well of course I read it @scribblingramma, I think fellow steemians' back stories are some of the most interesting things
On the platform. Yours had so many delightfully descriptive anecdotes and details
Which I suspect may be what the class was all about?
Dry, historical family facts tend to be
Dry and uninteresting to
Outsiders, No?

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