Cuyahoga River

Cuyahoga River
Cuyahoga River in the Valley

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Growing Up in Lorain

In my unpublished book White Preacher's Kid (hopefully that will come out in 2015), I try to capture what it was like for a white girl to grow up in the black ghetto. In a lot of ways, it was what followed, the move to Lorain, that was hard. We moved to the suburban area of Lorain near Amherst when I was thirteen. All the rules that one lives by were already being questioned, but how does a young girl who feels like an urban black inside accept the invitation to be part of a clique or any offer of friendship from white kids whose parents are members of a country club and have pools in their back yards? You're probably surprised by my portrayal of blue-collar, rustbelt, dilapidated Lorain, Ohio, whose population has been halved in the last forty years. But for this thirteen-year-old girl, Lorain felt very foreign and intimidating. How I spent the next five years, growing up, is being handled with kid gloves in my book because I never figured out how to fit in and the ways I chose to acclimate were self-deprecating and tragic. Lorain's sex-and-drugs tough world revealed itself and it was just the thing for me to throw myself into. I became so deeply lost to who I was that I had what amounted to a nervous breakdown my first year in college. I think a lot, but back then, it seems to me I was avoiding thought. I didn't want to know right from wrong, yet I was trying to find what my life was meant to be. But I really thought I was just being a party girl, trying to capture as much of life as I could because I knew I'd be dead by the time I was thirty. If I kept up that lifestyle, I would have been. The story is one of survival, so treating it with kid gloves is probably the wrong approach. We'll see how I find a way to tell the story without doing too much damage.

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