Immortalization vs. Exploitation

I realize here that I’ll be borrowing heavily from the lives of people I have cared about. People who entrusted themselves to me in the form of shared experiences that they at no time realized would be open for interpretation and repurposing years later. These people are still out there. And they did not opt-in to my projects.

Before Facebook and Google, it was all nice and neat and easy to forget that the people whose memories I plan to plunder are still functioning and in concrete existence. Now, with a keystroke or two, I can unearth evidence of their ongoing lives. It was easy ten years ago to think that people persisted only in my imagination, for the purpose of making me smile when recalling my history. They were memory-only, suitable for dredging up and reinventing on paper with a disguised name. Or to recreate, transmogrified and composited, sharing facets of a character that draws from several personalities—discrediting all of the source material in the process, as if each person were not whole enough on his or her own. Yet I spent decades learning and traveling and meeting people for the sake of discovering the secrets of the world, with the goal of building a base of experience wide enough to create a new universe of fiction, or creative non-fiction, on top of that.

I was always the type of person, somewhat like my children are now, who attracts others in need of empathy and guidance to support all their dire, f**ked-up idiosyncrasies.

I was the girl that guys came to with confidences, allowing me to glimpse the misfit pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that contrasted with whatever they presented to rest of the world.

Those people innately knew I’d keep their secrets and love them anyway, smoothing over the jaggedness. And they graciously did the same for me.

Those are the moments and relationships I am passionate about. That’s what I want to capture. Yet I can’t help feeling this translates to some kind of betrayal that will necessitate forgiveness. There is a thin line between immortalizing these moments (I mean these people–friends, love interests and charges) and exploiting them. And I’m doing so in order to present a cathartic, authentic, emotionally valid piece of literature for public consumption. For art.

The difference may just depend upon their point of view. And their level of clemency.

To all those people:  I always knew this day was coming. You didn’t.

Forgive me.