"Conversations I Can't Talk About," a nonfiction narrative essay which is part of my memoir manuscript, appears this week in the summer issue of the online literary journal, Lunch Ticket. Since Father's Day will arrive shortly, I'm especially touched by the timing because the essay, indeed my entire memoir, explores my relationship with my father just before--but mostly after--his death.
The piece begins:
In the spring of 2007, my father and I are discussing something important when the guy in the car behind us at the green light raps his horn. In the passenger seat, my father, a polite man of eighty years does not flinch, just glances in the rearview mirror and says, 'Hold your horses, buddy. Life is short.' I want to say something to my father, but when I look again, he is gone.
Of course he is. He had been dead by then for about six months.
I did not have any telephone conversations with my father in the fall of 2006, between the time I last visited him in the hospital, 2,700 miles from my home, and the time he died there seven weeks later. I told myself it would be better not to call. Since I could not visit in person, I did not want to confuse him on the telephone with my voice. If my voice meant nothing to him, he might get upset—or more likely, I would. Or he might ask me to come. I did not want to have to remind him that I was, in fact, back at my own home in New Jersey and not still in Las Vegas, taking care of my mother in the house they had shared there for twenty-five years...You can read the entire piece here.
While over there, I hope you'll also read some of the other fine work in the issue, including an interview with Susan Orlean (talking influences, great books, nonfiction storytelling, and that oddity called "work/life balance"); an essay by Yuvi Salkow on depression, writing, and (yes) humor; and seriously good fiction, poetry and a couple of other creative nonfiction pieces I wouldn't mind having written. Lunch Ticket is produced by the MFA program at Antioch University Los Angeles, and I so enjoyed working with their terrific editors.