Interview With Jessy Easton
Rappahannock Review Nonfiction Editors: “How Did We End Up Back Here” uses a long timeline to showcase the transformations within the relationships. How did you choose which moments to include when it came to telling your story?
Jessy Easton: I anchored the story in the first and last time my mother was incarcerated because they are the memories that burn the brightest in my mind, the moments in our relationship that have most affected me. I wanted to show the transformation that took place within myself, while also showing the lack of change in my mother, and how that colored our relationship. The long timeline aided the tone of longing and loss, further pushing me toward the question: when is it acceptance and when is it just settling? Is there a difference?
RR: We were drawn to the constant complications between mother and daughter. Especially witnessing your mother being arrested at a young age. How did you decide to write about that relationship?
JE: I needed to understand who my mother was, why she did the things she did, and who we were as a result of her actions, so I wrote to find out. And I’m still writing. I’ve written a memoir about us and many of the pieces I publish to my Substack are centered around her, and yet, it never seems like enough. I’m always writing to get to the center of us, of our love, of who we are despite the chaos and dysfunction that has engulfed our relationship since the very beginning. I’m trying to get to the healing, not just for me, but for her.
RR: In writing such intensely emotional material, did you find that you had to decompress after writing particular moments?
JE: Absolutely. There were moments that had me hunched over my keyboard with my head in my hands. But I’ve found that it’s those moments that I need to write the most. I write toward the pain, the anguish, all the things that put my heart in my throat. For me, that’s where the real work gets done. That’s where the healing begins. When I need to give myself a break, I hold my son, kiss my dogs, or go for a walk. I’ve found that love and movement are the things that help me recenter my peace.
RR: We understand that you founded and own your own business, Rhodes Wedding Co. How do you balance writing with other projects in your life and career?
JE: For me, balance is about sacrifice. You can’t do everything so you have to decide where to scale back. I ask myself, what is most important? What can I afford to let go of? Time and presence with my son are non-negotiable, but everything else can ebb and flow.
I don’t always know when I’m going to do it, but I am someone who needs to write. I am a better mother, a better daughter, a better human if I get words onto the page so I arrange my life to give myself that time. Sometimes that looks like not watching television, scaling back on traveling, or saying no to business opportunities. Most days, it looks like waking up before the sun.
With the business, I work when I can—when my son is sleeping, on the weekends when I’d rather be out hiking, whenever I can fit it in. I know the business could be making more money, but at what cost? I won’t give up writing or spending time with my son, so for now, this is what balance looks like, and I’m happy with that.
RR: Your bio mentions how you moved from California to North Carolina. What was your favorite part about that transition?
JE: The seasons and the landscape. Growing up in the Mojave everything was a varying shade of beige regardless of the month. There was no color. There was no pulse. But here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, everything is alive and vibrant. There are so many trees that the sky looks green. There are thunderstorms and fireflies and fog in the mornings. There are mountains that are always blue and birds that are always singing. It’s truly unreal. Every day, I look out my window or drive the winding roads through the mountains to take my son to the park and I can’t believe I call this place home.
Jessy Easton’s work appears in Issue 10.1 here.