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Writing as Memory Window – Blue Alchemy 2

Sometimes memoir writing transforms your memory. The summer that I was fifteen, my friend Hope, who I’d known for a few years, ran away from blind camp with three guy friends during an overnight camping trip in the woods. They had planned this escape for a year and once they were found, they were all kicked out of camp. I thought I’d never see Hope again. Years later, writing about my summers at blind camp, I wanted to write about this incident but I couldn’t remember how I found out that Hope ran away. I talked with other friends from blind camp but nothing jarred my memory. I started writing about that summer, starting from arriving at Fox Cabin with its blue vinyl couches and orange, white and yellow checked curtains.

As I got closer in the writing to Monday, the night Hope went missing, I decided to just make it up. How I found out wasn’t that important to the overall story, I reasoned. I remembered that our cabin had shucked corn early that afternoon for a cookout we were having that night and I was just going to write in someone coming up to us while we were in the back of the dining hall complaining about the corn. But then, as I wrote into the scene, felt the New Jersey early August heat, remembered the bales of corn, recalled my friend Robyn doing Beavis and Butthead impressions, it suddenly came to me. It was later that afternoon, after we were done with the corn. We were having free swim, frolicking in the L-shaped, cyan-colored pool when Molly, the arts and crafts instructor, called me over to the side of the pool and asked if I knew where Hope might go if she was upset and wanted to get away. That’s how I found out she was missing. Nothing I had tried had helped me remember except writing right into it.

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Here’s another little excerpt from “Blue Alchemy.” Read a previous excerpt here. This is an essay that’s about memoir writing, and how memory and writing both get transformed in the process. And this little snippet is about how the act of writing can help us remember.

Don’t forget you can find other Friday samples here, and you can always read Older Works and Published pieces.

~Emilia J

For the Love of Seasons – Geomagnetic Imprints and Natal Honing

I have always had a thing for seasons, and it would be dishonest to say that the Pacific Northwest doesn’t have them, but it would only be slightly less untrue to say that it does. Portland, Oregon has seasons the way a Sound (as in Puget or Long Island) has waves: technically it does, but they are small and gentle ripples, and have nothing at all of the power and fury of the wild sea. The seasons of New England obliterate the landscape with a cyclical frequency and a constant intensity that I somehow find very romantic.

My ache for the extreme seasons I grew up with hasn’t faded, as I thought it might, with more time and conditioning in this more temperate climate; instead, the wanting accumulates. Even though I live on a big hill known for its power outages, impassability in heavy snows and general storm susceptibility, the most winter I’ve seen out my window–invariably on mornings when I have exams in like organic chemistry–only lasts long enough to take some cell phone pictures of the fleeting moment. Every successive winter that passes without significant snow, I feel a little betrayed by Mother Nature, or by myself for having chosen to live somewhere without real winters. I yearn for a good blizzard, the sky before a good snow, so dark it makes the lights inside houses and hallways look warmer, howling wind so gusty it makes the lights go out, months of snow angels and snowmen and forts and snowball fights and hot chocolate and sledding and real bundling up and layers and fires in the fireplace, a coldness and a darkness that seems to permeate everything, grab hold of the Earth and never let go until spring, when the ground would get soggy with all its melting snow. I miss that.

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