Holding my memoir for the first time

My really nice friends have been saying really nice things like, “Wow, I can’t believe you finished writing the book!” and “What an accomplishment!” and “That must feel so good.”

But there’s something about a Word doc in your Google Drive that doesn’t give you that warm and fuzzy feeling.

So today I put that PDF on a jump drive and beelined over to Kinkos (or I guess what is now officially FedEx Office Print & Ship Center–ugh, what a mouthful). I’d been putting off the task for months, intimidated by the finality of it, and I expected to hand over the file and pick it up after work.

So I was stunned to learn that I could print it myself, and that it’d be ready immediately. 276 pages. 13 cents a page. 5 minutes, if that. What was so hard to write was so easy to print. Something about it all made me want to cry. 

I watched, bewildered, as the photocopy machine purged my pages. It felt like witnessing the delivery of a child. Blinking back tears, I berated myself: Marisa, do not cry at Kinkos. Instead, I gazed up at the enormous vent, which snaked from the machine to the ceiling and looked like an oversized Slinky. 

Composing myself, I brought all 276 pages to the front desk and braced myself as I watched the young salesman punch holes in my pages and thread a wire binding through it. I critiqued his every move as if he were performing surgery. I wondered if he was looking at the title–“Sally’s Circle”–or glimpsing a word here or there–“cancer,” “two months to live”–and wondering what in the world this little girl was doing writing about such heavy things.

But nothing was heavier than walking out of the store, holding the enormity of what my mom and I had built over the last fourteen years. 

I took a walk to clear my head and stumbled upon, of all things, Marshall’s–one of my mom’s favorite stores where we’d always shop together. (I never even knew there was one on the Upper West Side.) I was debating going in when suddenly the sale sign outside began to move towards me. Seriously. Granted, it was on wheels, and it was a bit windy–but still. It was sort of eery, in a “Is that you, Sally?” kind of way. So I went in and flipped through dresses and pajamas and handbags. Nothing caught my eye, but the familiar ritual was soothing.

The truth is, I don’t know what Mom would think of our book. She started it, but I finished it. How I wish it could have been a collaborative process the whole way through–and maybe it was, just in a metaphysical way. I do know that when I saw that book printed, a firm voice inside me said: Sally’s name is on that page, and that’s important. What you’re holding matters. It matters.