Monthly Archives: November 2013

Chelsea Public Library Reading

This past week, I had a chance to do a reading at the Chelsea Public Library, hosted by librarian Emily Meloche.  It was a beautiful venue, receiving the Best Small Library Award from the Library Journal in 2008.

During the discussion after the reading, I was reminded of the many ways people come to the “story” of autism: as parents, care providers, professionals, neighbors, and relatives.  From a number of parents, I heard briefly of their experiences.  Since the event, I found myself thinking of a past exchange, one that I tell of in the chapter entitled “Flood Plain”  in An Archaeology of Yearning. Not long after my son had been diagnosed, in the mid-1990s, I was waiting for him at his school.  Having just dropped off her own son, a woman sat beside me, and we began a conversation.  But, called to her meeting, she had to leave.  In the book, I write: “… I think back to the woman’s eyes and the healing pause of a hesitant recognition, a shared longing, a hunger for the retelling or a new telling of a story she well knew.  It was what we both needed, this amending, this wash of words.”

I do think that the finding of language, the wrapping of words around the chaos of experience, can be healing.  We just can’t stop doing it.

Telling Stories

In my life as a teacher, I often offer a class that focuses on short stories.  On the first day, I remind people that we live in story.  We are constantly making meaning of what we have experienced by giving order or shape to our memories.  In other words, the past must be narrated to be remembered and understood.  Likewise, we project our desires (and fears) forward into time, imagining scenarios that have not been lived so that we can move into the future without losing our way.  In fact, we can only exist fully in the present through the stories we tell of what has been and what might be.  And, of course, our personal tales of the past and future inevitably draw from what we have heard and read.

Writing An Archaeology of Yearning reminded me of this powerful source of strength: the right stories (or rightly understanding what has been lived or read) can provide a way forward.  This blog, then, will be a continuation of this process of storytelling, this incessant desire to remain vigilant and wakeful.