Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Remember

I Remember....

I remember the way my mother’s feet tanned in the summer, except for that tiny dry patch just below her ankle bone.

I remember my first crush--a blond, tanned life guard and tennis pro at our club. He always wore a white swath of zinc oxide on his nose. I asked him if I could be his ball girl. He said yes. I was eight.

I remember the hypnotic morse code of Henry's heart beating through his chest and into mine as we snuggled in the light blue glider. The well-worn arms were stained with spit-up and baby lotion. I remember that I didn't care.

I remember when I was in seventh grade and Josh asked me out. I remember my answer, Yes!, escaping my lips as I heard the snickers and laughter from the mean girls who put him up to the task.

I remember that in elementary school, I could close my eyes and know, based on the heady scent of freshly cut grass, that the end of the school year lurked imminently.

I remember the rusted hole in the trunk of our car that acted as a portal for runaway groceries.

I remember the first time Abby looked up at me and furrowed her seconds-old brow.

I remember my first designer tennis shoes—leather Nike’s with a sky blue swoosh. (Important: They were most definitely NOT the generics from JC Penny.)

I remember the first time I took my husband's hand; I figured I didn't really ever want to let go.

I remember a summer night, lying on the itchy blanket in the backyard with thick, summer grass tickling my ankles and mosquitoes feasting on my legs. I stared at the stars and felt pleased that they sparkled their ancient glow for me. I felt like I took part in a vast secret.

I remember watching in amazement as my brother's wrist hung limply from his arm. I remember my stomach churning because I loved him so much and just wanted my love to fix him, just like that.

I remember stuffing the jump rope into the top of my one-piece white terry cloth romper. The red ties strained at my shoulders. I also remember my mother taking me back to the store and every bit of my body shaking as I returned the stolen jump rope to the store manager.

I remember squinting at the stick, willing the two lines to appear.


This weekend, I got to spend three days learning about writing memoir from one of the greats,Dani Shapiro. Not only did I get to delve into the writing craft, I was flanked by dear friends. More on this phenomenal experience to come.

One of the many thought-provoking writing exercises that Dani gave us was to write (without stopping) for 10 minutes and to begin all sentences with "I remember." (An exercise inspired by Joe Brainard's Classic, I Remember). My friends, Lisa, Lindsey, Christine and Sarah and I all found this both fun and surprising - we discovered that we wrote down both long-cherished memories and ones percolate that we hadn't realized we remembered.

We think this is a powerful and revealing exercise, and wanted to share a few of our "I Remembers" as well as invite you to participate. Please join us - either by writing a post on your blog about what you remember or by adding a few of your memories to our comments. Start with five "I Remembers" and if you get a good rhythm and flow, keep going! If you write your own post, please come back and link it here - and we look forward to reading and responding to your memories. And please be sure check out Katrina Kenison's beautiful I Remembers, dedicated to her mother.


Lindsey said...

Love, love, love. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Wonderful to have heard them all with your real voice.

Sarah @ Momalom said...

With the first one I remember you referencing your own dry patch.

With the last one I remember all of us in the circle nodding with the knowing that is willing motherhood to fall upon us.

And all the ones in between? Truly remarkable.


Kathryn said...

I remember my father carrying me from the car to the house on a thick Cape Cod night. I was terrified of the crickets but felt sure that he would protect me from whatever it was out there in the bushes making such a deafening late-August roar, and then I fell back asleep on his shoulder, the heat from his sunburn warming me through cotton.

Erin said...

Love this, and trying to remember what book the prompt is from---it might be Writing Down the Bones or it might be Bird by Bird--but either way it's a great one and I may have to work on my own. How long will the linky be up, Denise?

Jana@anattitudeadjustment.com said...

I love the way you remember your mom's foot. You were shorter, so it must have been in your field of vision more. And that reminds me of something I remember about my mother--her legs being all scaly from new hair growing in.

lisa adams said...

Echo exactly what Christine said... hearing them in your voice and meeting the woman that experienced them was magic. Thank you.

ShannonL said...

There is something about all of these memory posts that really touches me and draws me in. I really enjoyed reading your memories - thank you!

Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri said...

I love reading everyone's respective remember posts. I feel the emotion in each one of them. I especially like this in your piece: "I remember the first time I took my husband's hand; I figured I didn't really ever want to let go." That brought me to tears. Because I relate completely to this I remember.

Not Just Another Jennifer said...

Great idea! I'm going to try to do it, too.

Amber said...

I find this absolutely wonderful. The smell of fresh grass, the groceries, and the bullying are things I can relate to so well.

I am so glad that you, Christine, Sarah, and Lisa challenged all of us to do this exercise.

Kate said...

Oh, the anient glow of the stars! Terrific!

Anonymous said...

ahh...these are beautiful. it is amazing how in a lifetime these tiny little moments stick with us. it is good to remember...thank you for sharing, denise.

Alita said...

Oooooh I read Jen's first, but I was eager to click on your link. You write flawlessly with grace and a huge touch of reality.

I will be participating (even if I'm late) and I'll be linking up, too.


rebecca @ altared spaces said...

"I remember" is a great writing prompt.