On writing “First Year”
by Laura Bramon Good.
Finding blood on our basement apartment walls was like receiving solemn instruction to keep searching for meaning in the heartbreaking stories—our own and others—that haunted my husband Ben and me during our first year of marriage. The blood was just terrible: such a painful testimony to the life that the previous tenants had shared in the small, windowless space where Ben and I were trying desperately to reconcile and love each other. There had to be a reason, beyond the gut punch of fear and sorrow, not only that we found the blood on the walls, but also that we had recently tried to save a friend from a violent relationship, all the while wrestling so hard with each other that we could see through our own marriage’s thinning restraints of temperance, love and commitment.
Ben and I now live in an urban family commune with two other married couples and their children. When “First Year” was published in Image, I put the journal on the coffee table and invited my roommates to read it. One of their questions was: why would I publish something so personal and private? In part, it’s because once I had mapped the pain and sense of that year, the experiences revealed their beauty and their meaning—both of which were worth sharing, either for the chance to behold or the chance to learn.