If I were to leave my tiny condo in Seattle today intact and never return, one would come in to my lived-in home and find all the evidence of my book scattered about. There would be a lot of odd documentation, but even more mementos.
I still have journals that chronicle my obsession with haircutting: a cruising diary from the early 1990’s that detailed all my (many) sexual exploits; notes of what the gay prostitutes would say when I asked them if I could cut their hair; and photographs of the street hustler’s haircuts I performed. I also have writing assignments from therapy and a post therapy scrapbook that serves as a visual memoir.
My most cherished memento is a peach polyester pantsuit that my mother made herself about fifteen years ago. She proudly wore it up until a few weeks before she died. I hated that pantsuit when she was alive, and now I wouldn’t get rid of it for anything. I used to wear my dad’s Purple Heart from the Korean War like a brooch when I was a child. It looks like Hell now, and I’m lucky I didn’t lose it. It means more to me than it did him.
I am an only child. One of the most difficult things I ever had to do was auction off the house I grew up in. Both my mom and my dad left the house on different days in March of 2006 en route to different hospitals, not knowing they would never return to their beloved home. They both died that year. I had almost four decades of stuff to sift through before the auction company came in and set up the sale of both the house and whatever contents I left behind. I went through every inch of the house by myself.
I found all kinds of stuff that I didn’t know about or had long forgotten … and there was no one around to ask about it. Without my realizing it, I still stored a lot of my stuff in my parent’s house. Those few days of going through the house alone, attic to basement, strongly influenced the rewrites of my book.
From my 1988 divorce papers to my 6th grade leaf collection (all dried up), it all inspired me. There were even a few unsolved mysteries to investigate: why did Dad have two birth certificates with two different names; and why did Mom keep over 300 romance novels? There are several points in my book that came directly from the attic and file cabinets.
I wrote the book out of order. The last two things I constructed for the book were the first things to really shape my life. They were so hard for me to write about that they didn’t even appear in detail in any draft until a few months before the book was completed.
“I Want to Go Home” and “Vanity and Sanity” were the most difficult chapters to write. I still have a few lifelines in Robinson, Illinois who helped me piece things together. There would be no book without their help (Thank You, LB, PL, and BW).
I hope the readers connect with my story. My goal in writing the book is to extend a hand to the reader, hoping they are empowered to face their own struggles head on while remaining true to themselves.