I remember

One of the many thought-provoking exercises that Dani Shapiro gave us while at Kripalu was to write for 10 minutes, without stopping, sentences that begin with “I remember.” (An exercise inspired by Joe Brainard’s Classic, I Remember). Lisa, Denise, Lindsey, Sarah and I all found this both fun and surprising – we discovered that we wrote down both long-cherished memories and ones we had not even realized we remembered.

We think this is a powerful and revealing exercise, and wanted to share a few of our “I remembers” as well as invite you to participate. You may also enjoy reading Katrina Kenison’s exquisite version of this exercise. I also want to note that this is the next in the series of memoir writing prompts in Natalie Goldberg’s book.

I remember…

I remember my sister and I had bright pink and red Strawberry Shortcake comforters. Only they weren’t comfortable, the fabric was scratchy and irritating on my skin.

I remember hoping I would fall asleep every night before my parents were in bed. The sound of the television grumbling in the background was tremendously reassuring.

I remember walking down the road on a hot summer day when I was 10. I was so thirsty and wanted to buy a drink; but I had no money, and there wasn’t a store for miles.

I remember sitting in my dad’s truck, tutoring my brother on how to read. I was 11 and didn’t have the patience to show him.

I remember meeting my husband. The current when we met each other’s gaze was electrifying.

I remember being 3 and stealing a piece of gum from the corner store. I was enchanted that it was the shape of a football and wondered how they could have done that. I remember getting caught.

I remember standing in the rain at my first outdoor concert. The cold and wet did nothing to dampen my spirits.

I remember walking the streets in France with my family. My 4-year-old sister belted out the chorus to the Boy George song Karma Cameleon.  Only she sang “Karma, Karma, Karma, Canadian.”

I remember coming to our lot after we first broke ground to build our house. The four-foot hole that was to be our basement was completely filled with water. The dog raced in and started swimming. We thought we were sunk.

I remember watching the 2005 referendum from Parliament Hill. I felt like I held my breath all day, waiting for the results.

I remember when I was 13 and the priest at my school told me that I was a hypocrite if I chose to be confirmed.

I remember the brilliant sunshine that lit up the sky on both days that my children were born.

I remember when my midwife said, it was done. I would have to have surgery. I remember sobbing.

I remember freshy. It made my tongue purple.

I remember sleeping in a tent with my husband-to-be and waking in the morning to find it floating in a puddle of frigid water.

I remember the confusion of voices, and waking to a dark chill in the night as emergency lights lit the sky, a beacon of bad news. Someone had jumped from the balcony above us.

I remember standing as if perched on the edge of the world and feeling God sweep deep inside of me, reminding me that he’s there.

I remember my husband lifting me, clad elegantly in my wedding dress,  and placing me unceremoniously in the bright red wheel barrel that stood waiting outside the church where we were married. And then carting me off.

I remember when he told me. And then remembering nothing.

Please join us – either by writing a post on your blog about what you remember or by adding a few of your memories to our comments. Start with five “I Remembers” and if you get a good rhythm and flow, keep going! If you write your own post, please come back and link it here – and we look forward to reading and responding to your memories.

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25 thoughts on “I remember

  1. Lindsey says:

    Love reading this here. xoxo

  2. Great exercise. What powerful memories. I think I’m going to do this! (School’s out, yippie!)

  3. denise says:

    I remember my friend Christine’s hug–strong, comforting and peaceful, just like her. xoxo

  4. EEK! at the jumper!! I loved reading every word of this.

  5. […] *This post was done as part of a writing workshop hosted by Christine at Coffees and Commutes. […]

  6. ShannonL says:

    Loved this. Almost makes me want to write a post again! 😉
    I liked reading your memories and comparing them with my own… like thinking about Strawberry Shortcake and other things like concerts and trips and emergencies and weddings! Just lovely. Thank you!

  7. Chantal says:

    such strong memories. It has he reaching into my memory.

  8. Lisa Adams says:

    I love the one about the priest. I don’t remember that one from the weekend, but I will now! I really enjoyed reading them again and remembering us sitting on the floor sharing.

  9. Amber says:

    This is so beautiful, Christine. I might have to write two blogs today.

  10. Kate says:

    Oh, what a great exercise. Just started, and some memories were too visceral to find words. I’ll link up when I finish.

  11. Great inspirational exercise. I loved reading about your memories. This one “I remember standing as if perched on the edge of the world and feeling God sweep deep inside of me, reminding me that he’s there.” – really touched me.

  12. […] this prompt.  Since I am in a reflective mood lately, I thought I’d give it a try. Check out Christine’s post for further directions and other wonderful […]

  13. Absolutely gorgeous. I’m adding this to my writing warm-up routine.

  14. martha says:

    thanks for this exercise Christine. glad I found your page. looking forward to your future posts.

  15. rachel says:

    beautiful, haunting, elegant. thank you.

  16. Alana says:

    Oh. I love these – and I want to know so much more!

  17. Leslie says:

    I love these, and the exercise! Each line sparks another memory, or reminds me of one I have like it – hot country roads, groundbreakings, wanting a Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag. I’m just getting warmed up again, but I’ll come back to this.

  18. Amber says:

    I love this. I’ll play along a little:

    I remember the first time my daughter finally breastfed, and how it totally changed the way I looked at her.
    I remember planning my answer before my husband proposed, and completely forgetting what I meant to say when he actually did.
    I remember the feeling of swimming in the ocean in Hawaii, and it was perfection.
    I remember how impossibly small my son looked to me when he was born.

  19. […] post was done as part of a writing exercise hosted by Christine, Lindsey, Denise & Sarah. Thanks you for inspiring this stream of […]

  20. Cathy says:

    I did this exercise (although I did not know it was an exercise) and was pleasantly surprised about the detail I remember. It was in honor of my sister and I will cherish it always.

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