This past week, I had my students mimic a Paul Auster excerpt from The Invention of Solitude in which he narrates a character’s memories. I started my own attempt at the exercise and I was surprised how much I remembered in just 25 minutes or so.
I remember mandatory nap time. Standing up in my crib in the upstairs bedroom I shared with my older sister. I remember the lights being turned off and the shades being drawn. I remember being angry because the shades couldn’t hide the fact that it was the middle of the day and it wasn’t right to be awake. I remember kicking soccer balls against the garage door in the back alley and trying to aim for the brown, circular imprints left by previouis balls. I remember lobbing a rock on top of a car that had just stopped at the intersection next to our house. I remember doing it purely out of curiosity, not malice. And I remember the driver of the car shouting “hey!” I remember waving goodbye to my older sisters on rainy days as they left for school in yellow raincoats. I remember feeling sorry for myself. I remember loving Curious George. I remember the bright, yellow hat that looked like a large banana when the man in the yellow hat was walking through bushes. I remember another book in which the main character watches two kids in yellow raincoats from a window. I remember feeling sorry for the main character. I think that book might be Mumpsy Goes to Kindergarten, but I don’t remember. I remember not liking the color yellow. I remember sitting alone on a deep windowsill in my preschool classroom away from the other children, who were seated in a circle on the other side of the room. I remember getting a motorized wind-up car as a gift in the hospital when I was waiting to have tubes put in my ears. I remember my bed in the hospital being only one among a whole group of beds in a big, open room, and I remember feeling no privacy at all. I remember feeling slightly jealous of my younger brother who was cute and who had epilepsy. I remember not admitting, even to myself, that he was cute. I remember how he used to run leaning forward a little and with his arms behind him. I remember him running into furniture and walls constantly. I remember catching snakes in the waist-high field behind our new house. I remember calling the waist-high grass wheat. I remember the feel of running the plucked plants through my thumb and forefinger to get a handful of seeds afterward. I remember finding a rabbit’s nest and petting the scared little babies. I remember being told that their mother would reject them now that they had a human scent.