“Write the thing you are most afraid to write.”
Suzette, who has several books under her belt, eyes me over her coffee.
She laughs. It is big, loud, Southern. “Oh honey, join the club. When you get to my age you won’t care about that any more.”
“I hope so. But I’ll probably be afraid to write about how much I hate my sagging boobs.”
“By the time you get there you’ll have bigger fish to fry.”
I can’t help it. I laugh. “Okay…if you say so.”
Suzette sits back in her chair and waits, as if for confession. I am still, hoping she’ll change the topic. She crosses her legs. She smiles.
Fine. I sit back too, but I hold fast to the chair’s arms. I speak to the ceiling as much as to her, pushing the words out quickly before I lose my nerve. “I’m afraid to write that I have a beautiful house, with crown moulding and a rooftop deck, and a view of the Olympics.”
There’s a pause. “Sounds nice,” she says, finally. Her is voice even, neutral.
“It is! It’s beautiful. And it’s mine because I’m white, and my grandparents were well-to-do, and…well – because my mom can’t have it. I have what my mom can’t have.” I drop my head into my hand, and squeeze my eyes shut. My voice is tiny, barely audible. “Isn’t that just wrong? My mom lives in a shelter, millions of people don’t have homes, or have homes that are falling apart, and I have this beautiful house.”
“There’s a lot there. Sounds like something you need to write about.”
“Oh, poor me, the rich white girl who feels bad about her privilege.”
“People need to see you working it out, trying to figure out what it means. And what to do with it.”
I can’t suppress a groan. “Ughhh….okay.”