I must learn to enjoy even what cannot be shared. Amazing, poignant, illuminating moments that words cannot translate. I think this must be more of a problem, not because I’m a writer, but because I’m a documenter, a historian in the loosest sense of the word. I think it’s that part of me that’s most tied to having an audience. I document for the people I love or will love, so how can I be satisfied with the inarticulate-able?
Having said all that…I shall now attempt to record an account of what transpired yesterday.
Maybe it had to do with the Indian girls named Unwanted. I don’t think so and it wasn’t on my mind, but I won’t pretend to know exactly what my mind is up to. (And not just because that would disregard 99% of the basis for psychology and sociology.) Anyway, I’d been writing in my wip and suddenly decided I wanted to know the title, which hadn’t come to me yet. I started with looking up famous quotes (and not so famous) about memory. (It’s relevant.) By the time I got distracted and turned my attention elsewhere, I had some lovely half-phrases that would make an effective title – just not mine. Anyway, eventually I was attempting to go to bed.
I just remember saying to Josh, “I almost want to call it Keepsake.”
Keepsake is the only thing I ever remember my godfather calling me. I remember walking up the aisle to greet him after attending a service at his church and he would hug me to his side and say, “Hi, Keepsake.” He died before I became an adult and no one has called me Keepsake since. Which part of me appreciates. But the other part misses it.
I guess my mind applied it to the news story after the fact because when I read it, I was heartbroken. Maybe more honestly, I was stunned and sort of incredulous. As in I don’t understand how that is possible. I can’t speak for my siblings, but I think our parents made it clear that we were individual to them. I remember in the computer room there was a poem hanging that my mom wrote after giving birth to my sister, Anastasia. My sister, Jen-the-twin, has always been Bubble to my dad. We didn’t run together, let alone feel unwanted. The disparity between a girl being literally named Unwanted and my godfather replacing my name with one that meant I was treasured is too great.
Can you imagine their socialization experience? Being called that? If we can pretend the disdain ends with the name, which the article makes clear is not the case. (Little girls die from NEGLECT?!) I never remember thinking, “When he calls me Keepsake, it means I am treasured, that I am something to be set apart.” But I never thought, “I’m not.” And I never thought it had to do with appearances, thank God. Because when in high school, I was pretty much alone with my dad and no one thought things like, “Hey, she’d probably like to go to the salon”, I might have questioned whether I still was. It made no mention of achievements, either. He just meant me.
And of course I never got to tell him that I think he is a huge part of who I am. Even though I’ve only just started thinking about it as an adult and without discrediting the household I actually grew up in, that one word seems to have made a huge and lasting impression, subconsciously or otherwise.
Now I have a title and more than that. A lot of people believe, I’m sure, that writers are constantly funneling their own lives into their work. I guess on the most molecular level I could agree – once again, I can’t know what my mind is doing all the time – but only insofar as we all agree on Locard’s Exchange Principle. (I’m gonna assume we’re all forensic technology nuts.) But this is the first time that I am using something that is a big part of me, and in a deliberate homage. And I’m really excited about it.