One of the most unfortunate things about life is that often, the Venn diagram showing the people we are attracted to and the people who are attracted to us simply resembles a circle waving desperately at a much smaller circle across a yawning divide. And the smaller circle is usually full of freaks.
The civil unrest of the sixties and seventies has been over for almost fifty years, but in Arms Wide Open: A Midwife’s Journey, Patricia Harman (Beacon Press) manages to remind my generation (Generation X), and generations after, exactly what it was that those hippies were trying to accomplish.
In the catacombs of the Belz Factory Outlet Mall hung a pair of rayon Day-Glo orange shorts with a fat black elastic waistband, the missing piece to my patchwork fashion sense. My mother didn’t flinch when I pulled it off the steel carousel with “clearance” in starburst font on top.
My husband runs, too, but to say that we are both runners is like saying that the man who gave us “Pants on the Ground” and Beethoven are both musicians. Already forgot “Pants on the Ground” and the man who gave it to us? Exactly.
The earth seemed unearthly. We are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there – there you could look at a thing monstrous and free.
You are five years old. You play with Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Ponies and have three Cabbage Patch Kids. You cry every night when you think no one is listening. Your mother walks in on you and asks what’s wrong and you look up at her with 40-year old eyes and say, “I don’t know.” Mother takes you to see a “talking doctor,” as she calls it. A doctor for you to talk to, Lisa. You climb into the gigantic leather chair and notice all the spider plants hanging from the ceiling. You aren’t too interested in this man; you want to swing from the vines of the plants.
What makes you fall in love with writing? What makes you tumble into the story on the page the minute the words enter your body?
For me, it’s the details. I care about the music of the language and what the writing has to teach me about people and life; in the end, I want those bigger themes to change me. But as I read creative nonfiction, and the world of story rises before me, I want to see it, taste it, smell it, hear it, and feel it on my skin.