Recently, I was asked to be a Zoom guest speaker for a book club that had just finished reading my first memoir, Overlay: One Girl’s Life in 1970s Las Vegas. It’s hard to believe — and extremely flattering — that ten years after publication, my personal story is still gaining traction.
I can still feel those moments when I shared the stories I’d never told anyone before. It was terriberating – at once both terrifying and liberating to set the details free.
Once the stories were shared on the page, I too was free. Free from the pinch. Free from constricted trauma in my chest. Free from the inner chatter of who and what I was.
Then I was free from the old me who identified with those stories.
This week finds me in Puerto Vallarta. When I called my mom to wish her a happy 92nd birthday, she reminded me that we’d spent time here when I was a kid. “Remember the glass bottom boat? You loved watching all the marine life at the bottom of the ocean!”
Despite her advanced age, Mom’s memory is fully intact. And yes, I do actually remember five decades back to my time spent staring through the glass at the fish below the boat.
“You ran all over that beach in your sombrero. The Mexican people were all taking pictures of you. They really loved you!”
I happened to have an old photo saved on my iPhone, and pulled up my albums to search. Sure enough, it wasn’t Mazatlan or Acapulco or any of the other Mexican destinations my parents loved to frequent in the 1960s. It was Puerto Vallarta, the same ground under my feet.
The power of memory is endlessly fascinating to me. We won’t all have a 92-year-old mother who never forgets a thing. There’s no way to know where we will fall on the spectrum until it could be too late.
At Birthright Books, we’ve been fortunate enough to help folks retain their family history. If you’re on the fence about whether or not to write your story, or whether to gift this experience to a loved one on your list, reach out today. We have writers of all skills and price levels who will love to work with you.
Puerto Vallarta, 1968.