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In my unpublished book White Preacher's Kid (hopefully that will come out in 2015), I try to capture what it was like for a white girl to grow up in the black ghetto.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.