It’s been an interesting week of inner work. I found my guide for writing my memoir. It is a book called, “Write Your Memoir” by Dr. Allan G. Hunter. I found him by googling Neil Gaiman, (who, btw, has extra cred because my first awareness of him came through my NY daughter – Neil is a certified nice guy.).
Fairy Tales were one of my own first organizing principles. When I finally could read, thanks to the efforts of my mother. (See? I was home schooled for a while too). Anyway, when I finally crossed the line between the illiterate and the literate, when I learned my last name was Burkhalter, and my father’s rank was unreadable but pronounced, lew-tenant, before everything fell apart, before, before Daddy went to Vietnam, before my grandmother died. Before, before, when life was simple and really nothing had happened, but fate’s shadow loomed.
I was a little girl in a bed in the middle of the night in Pampanga. On a US Air Force Base (now closed) called Clark. I lived in the shadow of a volcano (dead, some say but really only sleeping). Acacia trees shaded the house and in the morning Julie, the cook, would be there with her sparkley rhinestone cat-eye glasses. If I asked, she would tell me about the war.
As that little girl with two long black braids and a sister asleep across the room, I would read. And the ceiling fan would whir and cast a moving shadow on the peach colored walls and the slats of the old bungalow, built in the 1900’s when the place was Fort Stotsenberg, would be the gates for the gheckos (butiki) who would dart and dash and leave their tails behind.
In that tropical darkness I opened Grimm’s and went travelling deep into the night. I remember being baffled at the darkness around the edges.
Raising my own children, I pointed them to Grimm’s. Last night I opened and read Maid Maleen in the middle of the night.
In my world now, my sleeping husband (my good prince), the jade walls of my room, the sounds of the children laughing downstairs (they are on school break) – the thousand comforts of my present life surround me.
I read the story of the princess whose father had her walled in a tower because she opposed him. He walled her into a tower with enough food and drink for seven years. Her maid was her companion. They lived in total darkness for seven years, then, decided to take action.
Their tool was a bread knife, and for three days they worked and worked and created first a hole, then a window, then a door.
And her father’s kingdom was in ruins.
And here I see the parallels to my life and I wake up as if on two cups of coffee and my head reeling I want to wake my husband up and tell him. But I don’t. Being 54, with gray hair, I can wait until morning.
The princess has another great adventure in the second half of the story. She did live happily ever after. Read Grimm’s and see where it takes you.
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