Remembering a writing exercise about remembering
I’ve been waking up around 5 a.m. to my loud fat cat yelling. If you have a cat, you know. It’s our routine and as much as it annoys me, it’s just something that comes with having Graham (my sweet kitty companion). I get up out of bed and do one of three things to make him stop yelling and singing-
I put food in his bowl. I try to avoid this one because he is very…big and it just literally feeds the routine.
I go into the bathroom and turn on the sink for him.
I pick up his big body and carry him back to bed. He sleeps above my head every night. I wrap my arms around him until he settles and put my head on him, listening to him purr, until we are both lulled back to sleep.
I did #3 the other night and as I was falling asleep I remembered being 9ish years old and crying about something in my bedroom. Our cat, Cooper (a big fat tuxedo boy), was in the room next to me. I remembered laying down on him like I was on Graham. I tried to mimic his breathing pattern which in turn, stopped me from crying and focusing on whatever was upsetting me. Cat are little meditative metronomes that have a super power to regulate emotions.
After I remembered my moment with Cooper, I was having trouble sleeping and I started an exercise in my head called “I remember”. I haven’t done it in a long time. It was first introduced to my in a college fiction writing course taught by the ever wonderful Polly Mills. The exercise is based off of Joe Brainard’s memoir I Remember and is used to encourage “automatic writing”.
That course was really important to me and I met one of my best friends in it. Our relationship was emotional and deep right off the bat because of the divulging we did in various exercises in a class of less than 10 people for four hours once a week. On the last day of class he quoted a SpongeBob episode and said, “Goodbye everyone, I’ll remember you all in therapy.”
So I made a note in my phone when I was half asleep on top of Graham to do an “I remember” writing exercise and to share it. So I hope you enjoy it and try it out yourself. Let me know if you do and if it brings up any new memories. It seems so simple but it always opens up little doors in my brain that I closed long ago. It’s welcomed.
I remember lying with my head on my childhood cat and trying to sync up my breathing pattern with his.
I remember getting out of breath.
I remember my Women’s Studies professor say that taking in a really deep breath is just as good as getting high sometimes.
I remember being too high in a rocking chair.
I remember slowly driving past his house with the driver seat reclined so far back that it looked as if a ghost was at the wheel.
I remember wearing white heeled boots on a plane to New York.
I remember bringing all my CD’s to my first apartment.
I remember listening to Casiotone For the Painfully Alone on the bus to middle school because of a mix CD someone made for my sister.
I remember going into my sister’s bedroom and laying stomach down on the carpet and not saying a word.
I remember reading the note my sister left for me in my bedroom when she went to college.
I remember being rejected for the first time at 15 and sitting on the town’s overpass bridge and relishing in the new found psychic pain it brought.
I remember thinking of the Elliot Smith line, “vomiting in the kitchen sink, disconnecting from the missing link” right before throwing up.
I remember laying on my roof in a bikini at my apartment on McLean and letting the sun make me so hot that I’d have to go inside and take a cold shower.
I remember a guy I was seeing tell me, “take some time to figure out what you want.”
I remember saying back “I always know what I want” and closing the door and feeling so fucking cool.
I remember listening to Frank Sinatra on my iPod shuffle in the back of a rental car in Puerto Rico.
I remember buying a La Croix for the first time and calling it “my sadness drink.”
I remember dancing with Dana at the Owl.
I remember the coldness of the Jack n’ the Box plastic booths.
I remember no air conditioning in a Buick LeSabre.
I remember singing “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” loudly while biking down Kedzie.
I remember holding hands platonically in the back of a pick up truck.
I could keep going- it’s the easiest way to write nonfiction. I hope you give it a go and feel something new or old.