I Want to Remember
September 26, 2012 § 16 Comments
I was inspired by Lindsey Mead Russell’s writing prompt “I Want to Remember” who was inspired by Ali Edward’s. To read Katrina Kenison’s, click here.
I want to remember the way the butterflies here careen towards my head in their ridiculous flight and make me duck, every time. I want to remember my next-door neighbor, the way he came striding over to me in his camouflage and combat boots, the sun high and his shadow arriving first. “I’m Bobby,” he said, just as I was wondering whether to advance or retreat. “Let me know if we can do anything for you while you’re getting settled, anything at all.” The next day, the woman across the street walked over in the rain with a plate of cookies and her phone number and I felt something settle, despite the boxes we had yet to unpack.
I want to remember the way I feel in the morning, how in the half-second after my alarm goes off, I am still not sure where I am. I want to remember how much I despise yoga at five in the morning and how very much I need to throw down my mat, to hear the particular sound it makes on the wood floors when the house is dark.
I want to remember these days, when my insides feel full of the sharp click of needles. I stare down the street at the identical houses and realize I am both tourist and native. The morning after we moved in, I waited for the school bus with Oliver for the first time, feeling such camaraderie with the other mothers. After the bus drove off, one of them told me her husband had been to Iraq and Afghanistan five times, once for fourteen months. I went back into the house after that, into a different sort of day.
I want to remember the sharp taste of the ocean, the bitter reminder of a war, a heat so impressive that it sometimes feels as though I have landed on the tongue of a dragon.
I want to remember what it was like to run through the cornfield behind my house when I was nine, my hands slapping hard at the leaves. I want to remember leaning over the withers of the pony I leased every summer, the moment when she gathered herself up and then exploded into a gallop. Her exquisite speed made my eyes useless until finally I closed them and wound my fingers through her mane.
I want to remember what artillery practice sounds like on Camp Lejeune, the air imploding on itself and the windows rattling as if in an earthquake or a battle. I want to remember the way my new friend folded herself onto the floor of our house, the walls still smelling of paint. She talked about her autistic son, each detail a gift, beads carefully strung. I want to remember what she quietly called testimony, the way she turned her face briefly towards the ceiling and said that her son gave her faith, that he caused her to believe in God and trust in this life.
I want to remember the man with nine fingers who came to fix the air conditioner, whose Carolina accent sounded like a banjo playing in the night. He asked me if I was from Mississippi and when I shook my head he told me, like a prophesy, that I was going to learn to cook black-eyed peas. I want to remember the way he talked about getting injured in the first Desert Storm and how he alternatively called me Ma’am and Sugar. Shuguh.
I want to remember the soldiers in the field next to the post office and how they were taking turns carrying each other over their shoulders, wrists and ankles dangling towards the ground. I want to remember the way Oliver runs with his arms outstretched, pretending he’s a falcon and the way Gus throws his head back and laughs when anyone says the word “stinky.” I want to remember Oliver racing off on his bike, sometimes tossing his legs over his handlebars and how Gus rides away from me, his back straight, one training wheel perpetually off the ground.
I want to remember my college teammate tell me at breakfast one morning what it was like to live in Bosnia in 1992, how her mother made her sneak up the street and check for snipers before she went to school. I want to remember the camping trip to Mexico my second year out of college, how my friend calmly described what it was like to flee the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan and travel to Turkey under the cover of night.
I want to remember my new yoga teacher reading from Meditations from the Mat, and how relieved I was to hear something so dear and familiar to me I wanted to cry, hunched over in child’s pose, my forehead pressed against the ground.
I want to remember every bit of how uncomfortable I am here because I am not someone who does uncomfortable well. I am someone who runs like hell from uncomfortable, who would rather turn away than look at the woman in front of me with the baby and the food stamps. I am not here to give testimony to a god but instead, to the way the world crouches between beauty and despair, each a tragic partner to the other. I can only bear witness to those dark and fragile moments before dawn, when it looks as though things could go either way.
Lovely, lovely, lovely. Thank you for sharing these images. The way the world crouches between beauty and despair – that sentence takes my breath away. Thank you. xox
Incredible. Your words are like breath for my soul. Thank you!
Oh friend. You and your words take my hand and lead me into the beauty of your thoughts and life. Like Lindsey, your line, “the way the world crouches between beauty and dispair” just floors me. I often think of life’s dichotomy and this line congers the most poetic image.
Oh, that man with nine fingers and the Carolina accent that sounded like a banjo playing in the night!
This is such a beautiful meme and I love having the chance to read your contribution to it. Your paragraph about the banjo-voiced a/c repairman just slayed me. Pitch perfect. xo
I want to remember this post, and how it made me feel.
Really trenchant and evocative–here’s to staying present, and compassionately connected, through the flux of joy and sorrow–trending toward the joy in what is.
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Beautiful, just beautiful.
This is quite beautiful.
I just discovered your blog through Elaine’s blog… I love it. What beautiful writing. I look forward to sitting own with a cup of tea this evening and reading more. We miss you guys and I’d love to stay in touch.
such beauty, as always pamela. xoxo
Testimony is a loaded word at my house.
I will listen to your testimony any time. preach to me. Listening to you, I feel showered in holy.
This is fantastic. I love this description: “I want to remember the man with nine fingers who came to fix the air conditioner, whose Carolina accent sounded like a banjo playing in the night.” Also, the deeply philosophical side in you is revealed with “…the way the world crouches between beauty and despair, each a tragic partner to the other.”
I needed a dose of Pam today. Beautiful. I love the way you seamlessly move between past and present. It works. I can never make that work. Awesome.
Did I really read this for the first time a month ago? I remember it. I remember feeling slayed by it. This time I remember the “stinky” reference and the training wheels. I am sure I could read it a hundred times and each time be struck by something different.
Amazing to think that you are one person touched by so many, and touching so many.
Ah. I’ve been writing to much and not reading your posts. And it shows. ❤ Thank you!