I remember

Posted: December 28, 2010 by writingsprint in Memories, Weird
Tags: , , , , , , ,

This one’s wild. “I remember” is an exercise where you start with the words “I remember” and don’t stop until you’ve filled two pages. What you’re about to read may or may not be true. I’m not telling; that’s why it’s called fiction.

I remember cold. I remember snow. I remember jumping into the middle of it and feeling it fall up my legs and down my socks. So much for those plastic bags wrapped around my feet, that were supposed to keep me dry. My jeans were wet and I didn’t care. I was six or seven or older. I didn’t care. I loved snow. Snow was like seeing everything wiped clean, a blank slate, and it was fun and fuzzy and the only time you could throw something at somebody and it was okay.

Well, I thought it was. Our teachers told us the story about throwing snowballs at cars and giving an old man a heart attack so that he crashed and killed four schoolchildren or something. So we threw snowballs at each other instead of cars with old men in them. There might’ve been a warning story about not throwing snowballs at each other, because there was a kid who lost an eye, but that didn’t stop us.

I remember skiing. When I close my eyes, to this day, I remember that sense of movement, of flying over grainy ice that the experienced skiiers said was shit but which I thought felt like heaven. God, it was fun. It was my first time skiing, and it was dusk by the time I finally made it off the training hill and gave one of the green dots a try. I picked up speed to about twenty miles an hour or so. I scraped ice and slid where I didn’t mean to go. The bits of snow stung my face. I sniffled snot and tasted the salty taste of it as it ran into my mouth. Ski gloves don’t wipe your nose very well. My cheeks felt numb. I loved it.

I remember the time I fell down. I slid to a stop and wrapped my arms around a tree. A few seconds later I heard a snowmobile come to the top of the hill, and the ski patroller yelled, “You all right?” Yeah, I was all right. I must’ve had a bullseye on me that said ‘beginner.’ It’s good to know they’re watching.

I remember being watched in grade school. Imagine that you’re sitting hunched over a desk, doing seatwork, and a falcon is floating silently over your heads. If you talk to the kid next to you, those talons are going into your neck. That’s what it felt like. So I kept my head down and kept working. The nun walked up and down the aisles like a black-skirted police officer. I could say more, but my first writing teacher told us not to write cliches, and the mean Catholic school teacher is a cliche. I guess they had a reason for doing what they did. Darned if I know what it was.

I remember walking up Newport Street toward Black’s head shop. It was a cloudy day in Ocean Beach, and I could hear the sand on the sidewalk crunching under my feet, behind the waves crashing in the ocean about a quarter mile behind me. You could skate or do soft shoe on that sidewalk. A lady walked by with her dog, followed by a pair of skateboarders with tats on their arms and piercings in the lips and ears. I thought about getting them to. You live her for a few years, you go native. I remember the incense smell inside Black’s, and the weird books in the shop in the back. Artwork by Heavy Metal artists. Chuck Palanhiuk’s Fight Club. Books on Star Wars. Go figure. They had good tie dye shirts, and weird, rainbow-streaked candles. I remember the time I tried surfing and nearly broke my hand. Rule #1, don’t teach yourself. Rule #2, keep your hand flat when you’re falling into 18 inches of water. Otherwise, it’ll go right through the water like a harpoon, and bend in all kinds of funny ways that it didn’t yesterday. Ow.

I remember.

I remember the day I put on this sweater, on the end of a canoe trip from Vancouver to Alaska. It was the last day of the water voyage, and the next day was the land excursion. We were going camping in the forests of the Alaskan wild. Her family would teach me to shoot deer, hunt grizzly, wrestle badgers, howl with wolves, and commune with the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit spoke to me in words my great-grandfather spoke, and I understood them, which is strange, because I’m Lithuanian and Irish. The Great Spirit told me one day I would understand, and until then, to stop wrestling with wildlife.

I remember the first day I picked up a comic book. I was in Pittsburgh, in college, and I was having a long damn day in a long damn semester of a long damn year, before I changed majors and my world opened up. I drank in the color and the pages, the untamed glory of the ink and the passionate, insane characters. Somewhere inside me was the rebel underdog hero of a comic book story. In a few more years, I bought my first, a story of teenage ninjas in what my sophomore year Discourse professor would call a fragmentary text. Ninja masks and whirling blades were surrounded by poetry, Polaroids and diaries. This was an angst-ridden ninja who would kick your ass. Last week I told my brother that the bare edge of creativity is in comic books.

I remember.


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