Tuesday, May 22, 2012

An Exercise

If you were only allowed ten memories, what would they be?


  1. Hmm. Tough one! But here are three for the shortlist anyway, before the prompts gets too old:

    My father called me in the wee hours of the morning. "Your mother's having a heart attack." And could I go over and watch Aidan, my eight-year-old nephew who was sleeping over with them that night? There was little thinking done. Rather than call the ambulance, Dad bundled Mom off in the car, and I paced around the house and called the hospital ahead of them, to advise the emergency unit of their arrival. I got a call at about 4AM from Dad, who told me everything was going to be all right, it had been a false alarm, and I should go to bed. So I lay down on the guest bed, and a horrific shriek from the master bedroom completely straightened my spine.
    Aidan, already enduring the Twilight Zone horrors of a bitter divorce, had woken up in an empty bed: both Granny and Pop-pop had been zapped clean out of the room. I found him stretched across the pillows along the headboard, in a twist of sheets, wrapped tight as a mummy. "Where are they?" he demanded, with his eyes shut.
    "Granny wasn't feeling well," I said, "so Pop-pop took her to the hospital."
    His brow furrowed, but he kept his eyes shut. "In the middle of the night?!" he shouted, and fell back asleep.
    Having injected me with just the edge-over adrenaline I needed not to sleep for what was left of the night.

    I remember calling and calling for water. In comes Dad and hands me a glass (I take a token sip) and says there's nothing in the room (hell, he knows why he is really there). I believe him, until he leaves the room, the voices in the radiator gloating, Yesssss! Then it's only me and them.
    Know why we're here?
    Got word you quit the altar boys. We weren't exactly eavesdropping, but your mom was kind of loud: "Quit on God? Do you want people thinking we're a family of quitters?" Sorry, kid, but someone--some things--like us catch wind of something like that, it isn't in our nature to keep away.
    Now, if any one of us were mothers, we might've even said, "Kid, you're no quitter. You're only looking for the things you love. Have you forgotten the dinosaurs' names? Have you noticed yourself reading their books again and again?" But we're not your mother.
    Gonna have to eat you. It's what monsters do.

    My dad has always been an incurable romantic. He married at twenty, and predicted that I'd be engaged by the time I graduated college. "You won't make it past twenty-two." Once, I got into a fender bender with a woman about my age, and my sister joked, "Maybe she's the one…" Because Dad was also very big on coincidences and signs: a Hollywood collision that ended in marriage would be just the ticket.
    I remember feeling disappointed when it didn't turn out that way.
    Then, a couple years later, I started dating someone in my teacher education program. We exchanged numbers, but I didn't dare call. She had the kind of looks that make any attempt to feign casualness completely transparent. So she called me first. At a Mongolian restaurant, I wrestled for the guts to ask to her to a movie; but movie houses were dark, and therefore suspect. I mulled various scripts in my head.
    And then at last, "How about a movie?" she asked.
    Our relationship got to the point where I'd go stay with her weekends, which meant a car trip from exit 13 to 9 on the NJ Turnpike. Back then, the toll was 95 cents.
    "Well, uh…are you my girlfriend then?" I asked her. "I mean, are we serious?"
    She laughed. "What did you think?"
    What I'd been thinking was, I could never be that lucky.
    I am the one who finally popped The Question. But embarrassed as I am to admit it, I took my courage from a sign: my car's ash-tray was filling up with nickels.

  2. I can see why you'd want to remember these events! You shape them nicely.

  3. Laying on my dad's bed (while he tried to sleep after a graveyard shift as a highway patrolman), listening to the stories he made up for me. They were fabulous.

    The barbershop in our basement. My dad in his yellow barber jacket sharpening razors on the razor strap attached to the barber chair.....

    Coming in the house on a warm summer evening to the smell of raspberry jam bubbling on the stove top.....and my mom in her pink apron stirring and looking so serious.... :-)

    My dog Ring.

    Meeting my babies....all five of them. Beautiful little creatures, every one.

    Painting. Whether with oil paints, water colors, spray paint or Halloween face paint....I love how paint transforms everything.....

    Decorating my Christmas trees (all nine of them), which I feel is a form of art....each tree is like a blank piece of canvas waiting for someone to express themselves on....

    Seeing the ocean for the first time....

    Smelling rain......

    and ..... laughing.