Lisa tagged me for this, and it is a fascinating exercise! I’m going to tag Alison (if I can ever get her attention!), Shaunda, and amloki to post a comment and let me know they’ve tried this!
As per Lisa’s post, this excercise comes from Natalie Goldberg’s book, “Old Friend from Far Away” which is a book on memoir writing. The idea is to write for ten minutes about things you can’t remember. It’s an odd concept; even a little bit contradictory – how do you think about something you can’t remember? Well – here’s what I came up with:
1. I can’t remember the sound of my grandmother’s voice. I was nine when she passed away, and I had spent many summers in North Carolina staying either with her, or with my other grandparents who lived just three doors away. She was an exquisite seamstress, and a dainty woman with reddish-blond hair that was frosted with silver, but the sound of her voice is lost to my memory.
2. I don’t remember my great-grandmother’s funeral. I was almost eleven when she passed away, and again, we were visiting North Carolina. I remember seeing her in the hospital, sitting in a darkened room, crocheting by feel with cotton thread and a tiny steel hook. Her white hair hung loose, and I remember thinking that I hadn’t seen her with her hair down more than a few times in my life. She passed away in her sleep the night after I saw her, and the funeral was held just a few days later, but I don’t remember it. I can’t recall the church, the service, the grave site.
3. I don’t remember the taste of elementary school lunch, and I don’t care to.
4. I don’t remember the first dance I attended in junior high – probably with good reason.
5. I don’t remember the name of the very mean boss I had at the first waitressing job I had in high school. I do remember that he was a middle-aged Greek man who didn’t like the waitresses talking to the bus boys for any reason, even if it was to tell them to clean off a table. He fired me for spilling a tray of food after a bus boy ran a cart into my ankle (on purpose!). When I came to pick up my check, he offered to hire me back and I laughed at him. Still don’t recall his name, though.
6. I don’t remember much of the last half of my senior year of high school. Mostly because I wasn’t there much. I had work release, and I volunteered at my mom’s work (she taught in the resource department at a junior high).
7. I don’t remember losing my first tooth.
8. I can’t remember anything about my 18th birthday.
9. I don’t remember much about my honeymoon with first husband, other than we went to Napa Valley and when we got home we learned we’d been exposed to hepatitis.
10. I don’t remember the second time I went to Girl Scout camp.
Where do these forgotten parts of our lives go? How is it that I can recall so many details about important events, but so little regarding the event itself? This is an interesting process, and I can see the value in what Natalie Goldberg is saying. I’ll definitely be returning to this process because it has inspired such curiosity in me.
Off to see what else I can’t remember! Good luck!