The convention workshop on memoir writing brought a couple of memorable quotes for me. One I wrote about earlier was that we write memoir to taste life twice. The other statement by Carolyn Hall, the woman who presented the workshop is a good one, too. She said, "Go into the attic of your mind...."
What a vivid image going into the attic of our mind brings. I grew up in a third floor city apartment, and we had no attic. The only thing above us was a flat tar roof that sizzled on summer days. But I had the good fortune to spend a full summer with a great-aunt and uncle in southwestern Minnesota. Uncle Charlie farmed, and they lived in an old two story house. The outside was white, trimmed in black, Victorian looking. I loved that house mostly because of my Aunt Jane who was queen of the realm. The guest bedroom was on the main floor and the other bedrooms upstairs, reached by a narrow, steep staircase. There was a door at the bottom of the staircase that opened into the kitchen. At the top of the stairs, another door to the right led the way to the attic.
Aunt Jane took me with her one day to find something stored away in the attic. She opened the door and we walked up a short staircase into a huge room with sloping ceiling.It smelled a bit musty. Old trunks, boxes, a dressmaker dummy, a child's rocking horse and other things were neatly placed. A small window let in a bit of light and exposed dust motes dancing in the sunlight. A bare bulb hanging from the ceiling added more light. I followed Aunt Jane as she rummaged around in one trunk after another, mumbling as she did so. I don't remember what it was she searched for that day, but I do remember wishing I could spend time looking through the trunks all by myself. I envisioned a full, rainy day in the attic. My plan was squashed flat as we descended the stairs to the bedroom hallway. As she closed the door, my great-aunt said, "Don't ever go in there unless I'm with you." And from the steely glint in her blue eyes, I knew she meant it.
But now, all these years later, I can reach into the attic of my mind and find many treasures. The stuff stories are made of. Take some time and visit the attic of your mind and see what surfaces. It's yours to explore anytime you desire.