A memoir by Terry Cameron Baldwin

ALL THE GHOSTS DANCE FREE is a memoir inspired by the last years of my father’s life, spent with me in Mexico. It describes how a lifetime of easy compatibility cracks under the strain of living together again. Themes explored are aging and dying, alcoholism and suicide, generational patterns and the possibility of an authentic life.

Unlike many popular memoirs, like Jeanette Walls’ “The Glass Castle,” I never eat from dumpsters, cobble clothes from cast-off rags; I am never abandoned, left behind. From the outside my family looks good, our home photographed for the Los Angeles Times. We project an ideal image, but alcoholism flourishes beneath the surface, and my sister’s suicide rips the cover off our pseudo-perfect life.

The memoir takes us back to the 50’s, to childhood in a privileged but unstable enclave on the southern California coast, where the land crumbles and shifts along with my parent’s marriage. It continues in Palm Springs, the “playground of the stars,” through my early marriage, and moves on to San Francisco for the psychedelic revolution that rocked the sixties.

Part one is entitled: “Daddy’s Girl”, part two “Living as Sisters”, and part three is “Flower Child”which ends with the home birth of my son; his first year of gypsy life in 1969, and his unexpected first word, “Allah.”

Forty years later Dad arrives in Mexico in “Flyboy, continuing through my mother’s death in “Matriarch”, and ending in Morocco in a seaside town, “Asilah”, where, with his children, I visit the grave of my husband and sixties partner on the tenth anniversary of his death.

I write for those affected by alcoholism, their own or someone they love. I write for the survivors of suicide; those impacted forever by someone else’s final act. I write for and to my generation: baby boomers, now the establishment we vowed to improve. We reach retirement age, deal with illness and mortality, our own and our parents, and the problems our adult children have inherited. The worldview is disturbing; change is slow. Can we reconcile past idealism with the world we now face? 

And I write to honor the unique constellation of characters I call family, and hope to represent them with love and humor, their ultimate gift.

“ALL THE GHOSTS DANCE FREE”was published by SheWritesPress in October 2015.

Published Excerpts:

2012 SOL Online Literary Magazine“Flyboy” October Edition

2013 SOL Online Literary Magazine“Uncle Arthur’s Funeral”  March Edition

Terry Cameron Baldwin is originally from California, where she received a BA in Psychology and a BFA in Painting and Printmaking from Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe. She loves to travel for inspiration, to return to record her impressions in a variety of media. She has worked as a stained glass artisan, paper artist, painter, printmaker, jewelry maker, and calligrapher. She moved to San Miguel de Allende in 2006 from Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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