On page 2 of Room to Write, Goldberg challenges us to another freewriting exercise, this time not being allowed to stop until filling 2 pages. I’m going to be writing mine on a computer screen, so I’ll just keep going until I’ve written what I estimate would fill 2 journal pages. The other parameters we are given is that we are to begin with the words, “I remember,” and launch into whatever memories we can recall, however recent or long ago and however accurate or real they are. The idea is to again tap into that mass of grey matter we cannot consciously access, and if we get stuck, repeat “I remember” until additional memories dislodge. Wish me luck, and the best to you as well!
I REMEMBER squinting in the sun for what felt like at least 5 minutes because my older sister had told me that staring at the sun was a sure-fire way of having to get eyeglasses. I remember always wanting to wear eyeglasses as a kid, to the point that I did, in fact, stare directly at the sun on a cloudless day and eventually received a tortoiseshell pair with fake lenses for Christmas (interesting that it was only two years later, in 8th grade, when I really did need glasses, and was prescribed my first pair after being diagnosed with far-sightedness and astigmatism). I remember also always wishing I could wear braces, once again getting that little gem of a wish granted by freshman year in high school. I remember wanting a lot of things as a kid that I eventually did get, or never got and realized it was the best thing I didn’t, but one thing I remember always having and always savoring was the happiest childhood with my siblings and parents. I remember my sister dancing in a baby pool with me even though she’s nine years older and wrote song lyrics to dance by–I believe the song was called, “Twisting by the Pool.” And yes, we did the twist. I remember in much more frigid weather, my brothers who are seven and ten years older than me chasing my BFF and I around the snow-covered backyard and pelting us with snowballs. I remember my sister building snow fires with me in the “cave” created by that giant evergreen in the backyard when the heavy, wet snow weighed down its branches to offer us dark yet dry seclusion within. I remember wiffle-ball games in that backyard, my brother whipping a ball at me so fast and totally on purpose and it smacking me directly in the thigh and leaving a very big, very red mark. I remember standing in the grasses of that backyard in solitude, taking in the warmth and happiness of a summer vacation sort of day, and how sometimes when I looked into the clear blue sky, I would see what I called my “fairy”: it wasn’t anything that I made up nor actually believed was a fairy. It was a strange sort of translucent illusion that looked like a flower with layers and layers of petals, and these layers and layers of petals would appear to rotate inward as though on some sort of circular conveyer, rendering the image a glowing and flashing clear light of movement that recurred to me time and again without apparent rhyme or reason. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, diminishing, perhaps, with my childhood like beliefs in Santa and the Easter Bunny. Maybe it was my fairy, my very own private one, my guardian angel that is still with me even though childhood fancy doesn’t allow me to see it anymore. Or maybe it was just a since-healed impairment in vision caused by staring at the sun for a long, long time.
Whew, okay, that wasn’t so bad! It was interesting to find in that process how quickly the memories got flowing one after another once I got started, so much so that my fingers couldn’t keep up half the time. I really think I could have gone on endlessly, when you consider how many different years in different locations and spheres of people you can reflect on, but go figure that I ended up focusing on my childhood backyard most. I was all of a sudden transported to that arena where I spent so many summer and winter vacations playing with my family, friends, or just on my own, and while I didn’t get very descriptive of it in my writing, it was as though I could see every blade of grass and leaf to be had back there. Clearly, that setting was a meaningful stage for those initial developmental years, and I think if you try this exercise yourself, you’ll learn something about what you value. You may even be taken into negative memories, which could be that much more telling of you and the meaning you make as you move within the world. I really hope some of you do comment on this with your own freewriting, as it would be fascinating to see what you unearth and how you evaluate it.