Sometimes I give my students writing sparks, which makes me do my own too.
This writing spark is from Natalie Goldberg’s WRITING DOWN THE BONES. Write about a memory that happened five minutes ago or five years ago or twenty-five years ago using sensory details using the refrain “I remember.” It can be one big memory or a lot of little memories, beginning each sentence with “I remember.” If you find yourself writing about one big memory, keep going…then change it half-way through the exercise to use “I don’t remember” as the refrain.
I remember the taste of coffee and apple pie for breakfast.
I remember listening to my daughter play “Midnight Sonata” on the piano over SKYPE, and I remember my older daughter throwing the shot-put in high school and thinking how strong her arms were.
I remember my son singing “Start Me Up” on stage with his band “The Flypaper Cartel.”
I remember my husband, Kiffen, carrying them as babies in a sling while he watered the garden, and I remember the King Kong topiary that Kiffen crafted out of wire and jasmine, which grew and bloomed with such a heady fragrance over a blue picnic table where I sometimes held writing workshops for teen moms from East Los Angeles.
I remember my friend, Renee, a preschool teacher and ex-nun, who taught my daughter, Lucy, in preschool with those teen moms from East LA and who taught me how to be a mother – teaching me the importance of slowing down and paying attention.
I remember that before Renee died she tore up her journals and said, “There are just some things I am taking with me.”
I remember Renee’s son sang “Danny Boy” at her funeral in the most off-key and flattest rendition of the song I’d ever heard, which dried up my tears because it was so funny but so full of love too. I don’t remember the last real conversation I had with Renee or what we said. I do remember she married her husband on Christmas Day before she died.
I remember her best friends, Ruth and Caron, and her other friend – it’s on the tip of my tongue. I hate not remembering. Irma! That’s the name. I remember her husband, Luis, and how he never traveled but painted beautiful murals.
I remember thinking many times if only I could ask Renee she would tell me what to do as I have tried to figure out where to turn next or what to do.
* * *
Are You There Vulcan? 93 pages