In her new memoir, “One Day on the Gold Line,” Pasadena author Carla Sameth’s aching desire to become a mother, followed by the life she experiences once that dream becomes a reality, will crack your heart open with pain and joy.
This collection of loosely woven essays meditates on desire, motherhood, race and culture. Sameth’s writing is honest, beautiful and hits a balanced note of revealing her often naïve younger self with a wiser, reflective and compassionate narrator self. This is a story about a woman who is Jewish and lesbian, who falls in love easily and wants nothing more than to be in a loving relationship and build the perfect family. While romantic bliss eludes her for a while, her dream to become a mother does eventually come true. By the time she gives birth to her son, an Afro-Jewish child, she is single. A dreamer, she carves her own way. All parents will be able to relate to the narrator’s universal parental concerns about our children’s well-being and development.
In the essay “Some Markers as My Black Son Gets Older,” Sameth writes a listicle that serves as a kind of snapshot following issues of race surrounding her son from when she was pregnant with him to his teen years. “[Do] I really think about what it means when I hear the statistics being passed around that one in three African American men will be incarcerated?” she asks. “I just think of us being a ‘We Are the World’ family: multicultural, Jewish, African American, LGBT. I dream of rainbows.”
While the realities of parenting and family life can be a far cry from rainbow dreams, Sameth’s path is full of adventure, discovery and unconditional love for her son and, eventually, herself. “I hope that this book reaches other parents who are dealing with some of the themes I write about, including addiction, race, culture and identity, police violence, single parenting, blended and LGBTQ families,” Sameth says. “And, that they feel some sense of connection. I wrote my memoir to show more of a face to families like ours – ones I didn’t often see represented in other books.”
Sameth’s upcoming appearances include a 7 p.m. reading and conversation with Kevin Uhrich, editor of Pasadena Weekly, Aug. 29 at Vroman’s bookstore and a 7 p.m. author series. Sept. 19 at the Pasadena Central Library.