This weekend I am in my hometown of San Jose, California. The occasion is to run a half marathon with my daughter and various friends. This marks my 9th half marathon in this calendar year. If you are a regular reader you will know my goal is to run 12 in a calendar year…which I should be able to accomplish since I have Santa Barbara, Las Vegas and Los Angeles scheduled to end out my year.
I have no longer been a resident of San Jose for just a little over 4 years now. Yesterday I took a little trip down memory lane by visiting my old elementary school. I even drove down to my old house and walked the sidewalk that I once used to roller skate on and of course pogo stick. I saw my favorite sidewalk square where I used to play jacks with my friends. I saw the corner where I used to hide out and throw rocks at the passing cars. Even though the landscape is of the neighborhood is almost unrecognizable the memory of the emotions still exist. The emotions that are tied to the events of my childhood still live in my mind.
I drove over to Hellyer Park where I played as a kid. I witnessed the creek that I used to catch crawdads in and smelled the tall Eucalyptus trees. I could picture my younger self wading the creek with my homemade net carefully moving the rocks with an eager eye for a flash of red. I could almost feel the cool water rushing past me as I listened to the melodious sound of the water floating by.
San Jose is my birthplace, but it is no longer home to me. I love the crunch of the leaves under my feet as I walk Courtney through the neighborhoods we used to walk before we moved. I wonder if she remembers since this too is her birthplace. I wonder if she remembers the squirrel who used to chatter on the fence for her to come out and play and then for hours they would race back and forth along the fence until the squirrel would tire and climb up in the tree out of her view.
Memory is a beautiful thing. I love being back to my birthplace, but I am looking forward to seeing my Palm Trees of my beautiful city of Palm Springs.
As a Memoir teacher I think alot about memories. I find it fascinating that something can stay hidden in my brain for years and suddenly emerge! Just the other night I was walking Courtney in the evening and I could hear the boom boom of a bass drum from the high school marching band many miles away. This sound immediately transported me to the fall of 1978 when I was entering Andrew Hill High School in San Jose. My sister, Sandy was a senior and had told me how much fun marching band was. It did look fun going to the football games so I thought I would join it. The memory that emerged for me was remembering that I couldn’t march and play at the same time. All I can remember that whole fall of marching band season was counting out my steps and pretending to play my clarinet. It had been years since I recalled that memory!
Another way to get those memories to emerge out of your subconscious is to visit an antique store. Sometimes going to visit these shops will bring back so many memories for you. What are the things you remember about your kitchen growing up or visiting at your grandparents home. What are the smells you remember? Take some time this week to stroll down memory lane and see what you can recall. Use the computer to help you go back in time, there are so many wonderful sites that are standing by ready to share with you and open up those memories for you.
One last tool is to go through your photos with new eyes. Don’t just look at the people in the pictures, but look at the cars, houses, clothes. If you saw the movie, The Help this was a great movie to show you clothes and cars from that era.
Keep your eyes open, you never know when a new memory will emerge and when it does be sure to capture it!
My big sister, Sandy and me!
I have realized through writing that I can get to know myself on a more deeper level. It is through the exploratory writing that one does, especially with memoir, that you get to explore what it is that is unique about you. I never knew the joy that writing could bring me. It is through those times of deep writing that one begins to see more clearly. If you are in the process of recording your life story you will experience many highs and lows. Many times as we explore and write, the theme of our life becomes more clear to us. Have you found your bliss? What causes you to smile? A great writing exercise to do is to map out your life in either 5 or 10 year increments. Recording your life story this way will help you see the movement of your life. Is there a 5 or 10 year period that you recall as the happiest time of your life? What about a low time in your life? How did you manage to survive? What advice would you like to leave behind for your children and grandchildren? As you look at your map of your life, you can even graph the feelings you felt at the time. Were you in a job that you loved or hated? How did you feel about your childhood? How do you feel about retirement? Write about the greatest love of your life. There are so many areas to write about, but the best way to write is to just start. Maybe you can begin just by writing whatever comes into your mind. If you still feel stuck try this one…what if you could only take one memory with you into eternity…what would it be? Start small, but by putting your words on paper you just may find that bliss you have been looking for!