Fifty years ago –as a Sarah Lawrence College sophomore–I competed for and was not accepted into a writing class. It was an ego blow that took me a long time to come back from. Last month I closed my art gallery and now I am turning all my energies to writing a family memoir that spans the entire 20th century from Odessa to Paris and to America.
As often happens, a health emergency reminded me that there are fewer tomorrows than we like to imagine.
All my ‘tomorrow’ projects are waiting for me in boxes, files and notebooks. Somehow, I am the family archivist. My children cannot read the French, Russian and Yiddish letters that tell our family history. Those letters will bring to life their grandfather Sioma, in his own evocative, whimsical and idiosyncratic words. I am searching for the proper archives to house, for instance, the love letters of my mother and her first love while he was fighting in the Spanish Civil War and she was gestating their first child. And so many more things like that.
The memoir I am working on uses objects or documents as prompts. Each object takes me on a journey through my memory and feelings and into the evidence that others have left behind. These artifacts will be chapter headings.