This year, when I went to Chautauqua, I took the plunge and enrolled in a special interest course. These courses are not included in the price of your gate pass, so if you want to take one of the many offerings, be prepared to pay an extra $95. When I heard that a 3-day course called “Living Your Best Life through Narrative, I took a deep breath and signed up. Because the title included the words life and narrative, I assumed it would help me with writing memoir pieces. I should have done more research into this course, because that’s way too much money to throw away on an assumption. This course was nothing more than writing short pieces on the spot called prompts. We do this in our TTN writers group for free. In fact, I felt like I was back in Columbus writing prompts. I learned nothing. I was even more depressed about the writings I heard than the money I wasted. This was nothing more than group therapy through writing. I don’t need group therapy. When some of the participants stood to read, they dissolved into tears as they told how they had lost their husbands and didn’t know how they were going to go on. The instructor encouraged these dark and sad writings by giving us prompts such as “What do you fear most and why?” and “When in your life have you said yes when you should have said no.” I believe that he was working through his own problems of dealing with a romantic breakup. He said as much, which was inappropriate. After hearing all these woeful stories, I decided to make mine lighter and even a little humorous. I didn’t read it to the class, but here it is for you.
When I said yes but should have said no:
“Yes please, I’d love a piece of cake. Sure, and ice cream would be great. A sandwich would be much more satisfying than a salad. “Seconds anyone?” Yes please. I used to keep my wedding dress hanging in my guest room closet, and now and then I’d try it on to see if I could still fit into a size 5. When the size 5 became a little too snug, I had it sealed up and stored, for maybe a petite granddaughter. Many years later, when my daughter was married, I searched and searched for the perfect dress, one appropriate for the mother of the bride but not one that looked like a nightgown. I looked stunning in it as I walked proudly down the aisle on the arm of my handsome son. And about once a year for many years, I would slip into that fabulous dress just to make sure I could still zip up the back. The last time I tried, the zipper would not meet, and the dress looked way too tight. Now it too is sealed up and stored for maybe one day I can wear it for my granddaughter’s wedding, but it will take a lot of saying “No thanks.”.”
I’ll close with a caption for the photo summing up my 4th year at CHQ. On the Friday night of the first week, Jeannette, Anna, and I joined our TTN friend Pat for a celebratory drink at the big fancy hotel, the Athenaeum on the porch overlooking the lake. Here’s a photo of us toasting our friendship and CHQ.Here’s to you, CHQ.
Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”
Available at Amazon.com, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261