Troppo Pesante

I was watching a film — not a great film — the other night, A Home of Our Own. It is a monument to suffering set during the early 1960s, about an impoverished woman struggling to raise her 6 kids and provide them with a home, using everything she has — brute stupidity, ignorance, stubbornness, necessity, determination, and a limited amount of charm, enough to make her a sympathetic character. She also has a sufficiency of that quality that has suddenly become so popular, “grit.” BUT as I watched I was hit by the tremendous weight of my own memories.

It was strange that realization hit me in Italian. “Pesante,” I thought. “Troppo.” Too heavy.

If I go to a spot in the infinite library of my mind and remember some small something, the whole thing opens like a book, incredible details, days, hours, colors, and I feature in them not like the story-teller but a character, sometimes a curious little girl, sometimes a young woman with no idea what’s going on. It is a bright series of days, of feigned certainty and motion.

One of the readers of this blog is writing a memoir. She expressed how, for her, the past — memories — are not just events in time and that the process of writing a memoir they are transmuted through the creative act of writing. I’ve written a few books based on my life experiences that focus on a moment, a period, in my life or an activity. But these others? The weight of them and their rapacious detail?

I just don’t know. I think I have a phobia about going there with my keyboard, my fingers, my mind.

24 thoughts on “Troppo Pesante

  1. I’ve written essays that fall under ‘Memoir,’ but a whole book? Nah. I’m not willing to share the dark corners. And who would find them interesting? I’m thinking: nobody.

    • No. Sensible. I was thinking of my Aunt Jo taking me down to the crawl space in her house and showing me something then saying, “I have to remember to burn Hank’s and my love letters.” I got that. It was about her privacy. ❤

  2. Yep. I’m pretty sure there’s a difference between ‘memoir’ and ‘wanton exhibitionism.’ You could probably also throw ‘masochism’ in there, too. 🙂

    • 😀 The little memoirs I’ve written are stories I wanted to tell — they have an audience, sometimes just one person. A couples should have a very wide audience but I’m a crappy publicist. That’s one thing that makes self-publishing wonderful.

  3. Oh, the one that cannot be named or written down is one Stephen King memoir. I would write them down in the deep recesses of my soul and just be aware of it.

  4. I once thought my life’s story could be written as a glorious but heartbreaking tragedy. I now see it as a self indulgent tragicomedy of errors. Just one of a million like it and of little interest to anyone but me. Heavy sigh!

    • My life is interesting (in a general sense) in episodes — teaching in China and hiking in CA. But those are stories from my life, not my life story. To me there’s a distinction.

  5. I understand. I’m not into voyeurism so the “tell all” autobiographies of the rich and famous don’t interest me. I look at my life and think, “I’ve led a boring life” so there would be no market for my memoirs. There are others who have secrets and embarrassments aplenty and I applaud them for resisting the urge to do an emotional striptease.

    • It’s funny but until I read the comments on this post today, I didn’t think of an “emotional striptease” at all when I thought of memoir. I don’t really think the human has a wide variety of possible emotions, but some of the events and some of the choices we make, some of the completely random things that happen (like my moving into a “barrio” in San Diego and ending up hanging out with a group of teenage BMX riding boys) are good stories. I think of memoir more as stories from life than a regurgitation of pain — I guess that’s what hit me about the movie I watched.

  6. Infinite library of your mind…something pulled random moments out the other night as I was trying to fall asleep. Whole scenes went through head as if I was writing them down (for what purpose I have no idea). Doesn’t help the falling asleep process, but something must have opened up. How interesting to anyone else? I have no idea. Too bad I totally forgot all of it the next day. Mini memoirs for one person…I like it. Maybe like a “letter” to a friend. 🙂

    • A lot like a letter to a friend. 🙂 I think whether it’s interesting to someone else depends on how well it’s written and understanding who that someone else might be, you know, like any writing. BUT a couple of my private memoirs would be interesting to a much wider world — they are just no one’s business. It’s lovely to be able to choose one’s audience.

      • Thinking of it that way is much less intimidating. And, yes, some things are nobody’s business – other than that one chosen reader. I’ve been wrestling with this for a long time.

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