A Memoir This Does Not Make, But It Tells a Tale

NaPoWriMo Day 29: Poet and artist Joe Brainard is probably best remembers for his book-length poem/memoir, I Remember. The book consists of a series of statements, all beginning with the phrase “I remember.” 

I remember…

  1. “Here she comes, here she comes, oh she slipped back in,” as her 8-year-old brother greeted his baby sister into the world.
  2. Believing that having a signature perfume scent, a Volvo station wagon, and a California bungalow of my own meant I was “grown up.”
  3. That the women I most admired growing up were my mother and aunts, and that while I thought they were the most sophisticated women in the world, they were barely 30.
  4. Rolling the Toyota Forerunner over twice on black ice in very slow motion. One passenger screaming bloody murder and my two children quiet as mice.
  5. After reading a poem that my son wrote for me instead of the “Dear John” letter he was likely instructed to write from Iraq, I could have died happy right that moment.
  6. Feeling incredibly angry upon being betrayed by someone whom I had committed my life to, and how every once in a while that anger still stings nearly a decade later. And surprisingly it wasn’t a boyfriend or husband who cut me that deeply.
  7. One summer day riding the Honda 350 into the foothills of California with my dad, the wind in my hair, my arms wrapped around his waist, and stopping to get an ice cream cone feeling like the best day ever.
  8. Lying on the floor of the urgent care puking my guts out, my migraine headache pain level off the chart for the nth day in a row, a blanket over my head to block out the light, crying babies piercing my skull, and not caring what I looked like at all.
  9. Realizing that there was nothing I liked better than the smell of my boyfriend on my hands and clothes. It had nothing to do with cologne, and I hoped I would still smell this and smile in years to come.
  10. Being at a wedding when my son was nearly three months old, and I not yet 19, and the exact words that were spoken to me by this man before he hit me that spurred me to leave him forever and get my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree.
  11. My parents always let us play in the fire when camping. Many a burnt stick used for sky writing, flaming marshmallows, and many melted Adidas shoes later, I am surprised they still allowed it.
  12. The day I looked at my journals I had kept since fifth grade and thinking to myself, “Oh my God, I have to burn these… I can never allow my children to read the contents!”
  13. Being pregnant with my daughter and walking through the talking trees on the UCSD campus high above the ocean, and feeling the most incredible peace and joy in that moment.
  14. Looking into a coyote’s eyes in the canyon and feeling for certain he was going to steal my soul.
  15. The last time my adult daughter slept in my bed, and how lucky I felt that we can share our hearts as women, and yet how her face still looks exactly like my little girl.

 ~Just L (April 29, 2016)

 I decided to write down 15 memories in less than 15 minutes. No editing, no overthinking. Interesting what stays with us.

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