When I began writing my book, I expected to simply tell my story: a farm girl goes to the big city, falls in love, marries, experiences tragedy, falls in love again, marries but then knows abuse, and along the way has four beautiful children. As the pages unfolded though, I realized that my story was everyone's story. The details of my journey are unique to me of course, but the emotions accompanying those details are universal. We all know sorrow, fear, or regret; and, we all travel through life trying to make sense of it all.
I've read many memoirs this year, and with each I have discovered new friends. I know them through their struggles and their celebrations. Though I have not experienced the high mountains of Colorado, for instance, I feel as though I have--after reading Gin Getz's The Color of the Wild. Her quest became my own as winter became spring and the mountains burst with life. And, now as she publishes her second book, it is as though I'm awaiting a family reunion. There is so much I want to know, such as how the drought affected life on that soaring terrain.
Prior to reading Larry Gray's A Boy From Down East, I didn't know what it was like to grow up in a neighborhood in the Southeast, where children spent their afternoons playing baseball in the fields. But I related to the youthful innocence and the stories that bridged generations. I had no neighborhood on the farm where I spent my youth, but I discovered that Gray's questions were like mine, and that realization captivated me within the first few paragraphs of the book.
Maya Angelou wrote that, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." I now understand the agony of which she wrote, for the story ultimately is not mine (or yours)--it belongs to all of us. Each of us simply holds a version of it temporarily.