This Friday I will be attending a meeting here in my neighborhood where a group of ladies will gather to share their quest to write their memoirs. I've been invited to speak on the topic of writing and perhaps motivate the group toward their memoir goals.
I've decided to bring a list of writing prompts, words and ideas that can spark putting pen to paper. Trust me, I've had to do this for myself from time to time. I've sat at many a blank screen watching that pulsing cursor all but laughing at me while I conjure nothing.
If you will, I'd like to share my own experience with one of these prompts and I give it to you here:
An Older Man
His hair was raven, black and shiny, as was his car. His name was Pat, short for Pasquale, and he was too old for me, but at fifteen, I was agog.
Pat drove a sleek Ford Fairlane with the elongated lines of the Batmobile and he kept his hand at twelve on the wheel, elbow locked, wrist flexed. Just the sight of him cruising along Cedar Road, the cross street that intersected the avenues of my little neighborhood, made my heart flip. It was dangerous to like him, three years my senior, he was forbidden. That, I think now, is what really quickened my heartbeats..
He smoked Marlboro's and the smell of tobacco clung to the grey leather interior of his car. I'd climb in and sit so close to the passenger door that the chrome handle would dig in my side. He'd snake an arm along the top of the bench seat, his fingers reaching to touch my shoulder. His eyes, like black olives, danced with amusement. A simple "How are you today?" rendered me speechless. How was I? Scared, exhilarated, daring heart thumping, mind zooming with the what-if of getting caught by my father. My response to Pat, though was a one-shoulder accented "Good."
He gave me my first real kiss and I remember now how I opened my eyes during that first one. I stared out the window of that Fairlaine incredulous that I actually knew how to do it, how to tilt my head, how to not asphyxiate. He gave me his silver ID bracelet to wear on my wrist, which I ceremoniously slipped from my arm and tucked into my purse when I went home. But, alone in my room, I donned it, loved the cool heaviness of the chain, was enrapt with the way it dwarfed my wrist, how it gave me a diminutive feeling, a sense of femininity. I was sure I was in love and I would be forever.
Two months later, it was done. The obstacles were many, those three little years between us a chasm of lifestyle. I couldn't go on dates yet, he had no interest in going to Florham Park Skating Rink on Friday night with all my other freshmen-aged friends. Sneaking around was tedious for me, frustrating for him.
I was the one to actually end it. I practiced what to say in my room, talked it out to the mirror above my dresser. Then, standing outside the driver's side door of that Ford Fairlane, the ID bracelet sat heavy in my palm. I recited what I had rehearsed and returned his silver chain.
There was such beauty in retelling the sweet agony to my friends. And, as I look back now, I see with certainty that it was then that a hopeless romantic was born.