What I Don’t Remember

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!

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2 thoughts on “What I Don’t Remember

  1. lisamm says:

    Hi Kim, thanks for playing along. Wasn’t this a great exercise? I knew yours would be really good. I know what you mean about your grandma’s voice. I can sometimes hear my grandma in my mind, only when I’m not trying. If I try.. I can’t conjour it up. Does that make any sense?? Maybe stop trying to remember it and it will come to you (?)

    Thanks again.

  2. bkclubcare says:

    I found this to be very fascinating! What other stuff bubbles up when you try to pull out something specific from the memory bank?

    Wish it worked for money banks… try to extract a $5 bill and get a bunch of tens and twenties… oh well.

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