Between Nightlife and Sunrise — Memoir Writing

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You know what I miss? I miss those 2:00 AM hours in the 1970s when I’d get home from my job as a bartender and

Me, 1970s

Me, 1970s

immerse myself in my nightly ritual. I’d turn on my Garrrard turn table, unsleeve an album, usually Aretha Franklin’s ‘You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman’ – you thought that was a Carol King song didn’t you? Well, she wrote it but it was originally written for Aretha. Anyway, then I’d pour a glass of Chardonnay, light a cigarette – yes, I smoked then – sit back and listen to the crackle of the diamond needle as it tripped the tracks, scraping the vinyl waves in search of her soulful words. I miss that sound.

“Lookin’ out on the mornin’ rain I used to feel so uninspired….facin’ another day made me feel so tired….you are the key to my peace of mind….when my soul was in the lost and found….” Lines like that stirred my damaged heart and blue soul. I’d take off my hoop earrings, slip off my platform shoes, prop my feet up, inhale what then was the seductive taste and aroma of cigarette smoke, drink in her voice, those heartrending words, the comforting wine and commiserate with my female counterparts in the stillness of my two room flat – often in front of my art easel; an oil painting I could never finish staring back at me.

The line, ‘when my soul was in the lost and found’ hit home because that was how I felt. There was no one making me feel like a natural woman, but I longed for that, for him, whoever he would be. The 1970s were a lonely time full of heartache, foxy nightlife and cunning men, shadows that when the sun rose withered back into the cracks from which they came. There was nothing in my day life worth the morning sun, so it was in those wee hours when I examined my soul so lost in the hope of being found.

Aretha’s song touched me when she sang it, and it affected me again when Carol King serenaded every American woman with her own words that became an anthem of sorts for my generation.

As much as I felt my life was dead end when I was a wise twenty-three year old, just knowing someone out there understood and had gone through what I was going through lifted my spirits in those lonesome hours between nightlife and sunrise.

Some thirty-years later I was thrilled to see Carole King live, at a shareholders meeting for a company in which I had purchased stock with a small amount of hard earned money. She sang, of course, You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman, and as I sat there, a happily married woman and a (minor, with a capital M) shareholder, I smiled at my road traveled and was again warmed by the words that helped me keep moving forward and guided to me to the discovery of the strong ‘natural woman’ within.  It was a moment for me, a 20-20 hindsight thing where I felt like lighting a cigarette (though I hadn’t smoked in thirty-plus-years), pouring a glass of wine and hearing a real vinyl recording of my timeless anthem.

Instead, I settled for a latte and an autograph.

If I were to write a memoir, that would be what they call a ‘memoir moment’. What are your memoir moments? What were you doing? What were the smells, sounds, feelings? Go way back in time and pick one. Then write it, honestly and with all senses. Be brave. Expose yourself. Happy writing.

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