WHAT YOU CARRY is an unpublished novel set along the Florida Space Coast in the late summer and fall of 1976. Hurricane season. The Thompson family is under siege, in untenable relationship to one another, and the threat of weather is only one layer of their overwhelm.
Following Hurricane Matthew’s progress up the Atlantic coastline of Florida these past few days brought back memories from when I lived on the Indian River in Cocoa, Florida. Growing up there, many people worried that Florida would be subsumed, taken over by rising seas, permanently underwater. That it would happen in our lifetime. We were below sea level already, and our front yard often flooded from summer storms.
One stormy memory stands out: the afternoon sky was congested with purple, black and yellow clouds that hung full-to-bursting with the sick of a tropical depression. Thunder boomed in the clouds and lightning bolted nearby. The river churned murky and high, lapping across the road into our front yard. The radio warned a tornado watch was in effect for Brevard County, so Mom and Dad rounded us up, and we took cover in the concrete block garage. I trembled on the garage floor. Over the river, a waterspout whipped into being, and chaotic winds blew it across our yard. Luckily, we were spared. The roar subsided, and Telephone Line played from Dad’s transistor radio.
At least, that’s what I think happened. I was little. And that’s one reason why my childhood story is fiction and not memoir. Life has become so dream-like. I watch a lot of quality television, and I read stacks of books. I can barely remember what I did last week let alone 40 years ago.
Like a hurricane, life is full of near misses and direct hits. There’s no end to the cleanup. It seems to me this a time that requires even more clean up, more heart, more generosity of spirit, even though it’s hard to be kind under threat.
WHAT YOU CARRY is my attempt to show how the unspoken, self-defeating assumptions that give rise to my thoughts and actions…the neurological trails and edits that were laid down in my stormy childhood...my hope is this novel shows how they historically played out. Writing this manuscript has been a one way to use my goodies, as opposed to my defects. I chose to heal, not hide. No more harm.
If you have a moment, visit the music section of this website for The Bellyacher's versions of several songs that are in the novel, including Telephone Line.