Last week I sat in BirchBark Books and read Lynda Barry's latest, What It Is (click on link and then click "preview" on Drawn and Quarterly's site for a PDF of 13 crammed-full pages from the book).
(Turns out this Native bookstore, owned by author Louise Erdrich, blogs on Blogger! From BirchBark Books "About Us":
"We are an independent bookstore, with all of the accompanying quirks and non-corporate eccentricities. As the malling of America continues, it is our mission to be other.")
Barry says when people write about who they are (like, in personal ads or "about me's"), mostly it comes out sounding like an obituary:
"born 19xx; educated here; moved there; # of cats; and so forth."
The last part of her book is a writer's workbook with exercises for getting in touch with something more than a list of facts.
It got me musing on memories of summers past--and on my mother's old Buick. I mean, it was old even when I was little. If it wasn't this model pictured, it was one very like it.
When I think of this car, it's like hauling in a netfull of memories:
Waiting in the car with Sister in the hot parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly grocery store while our mother "just runs in for a minute."
Pretending to steer the hard plastic steering wheel, with ridges for gripping all 'round.
Sitting in the torn back seat, eating the animal crackers out of the circus-wagon box with the string handle our mother brought back as a rare treat.
And from there, I see my mother, my model of Woman:
how she smoked through her lipstick, while she drove her big car, which she'd brought to the marriage. How she walked in high heels without looking down.
Her perfume was Joy, by Jean Patou, but the bottle she left behind only palely smells like her.
[Image of 1955 Buick Century Riviera four-door hardtop from HubcapCafe.]