I was in a wonderful writing workshop several years ago where we were often given three or four words to begin a writing exercise with. I found that it was often pretty amazing what I would write, having no idea immediately where I was going. I find myself in need of such a tool right now. Going to go to a magazine, flip through the pages, stop and point. Here goes........
OK, so I cheated a bit. I let my fingers rest on a several word groupings before I found one I thought would get something started for me: total recall.
Instantly I went to one of my biggest frustrations, and loss. I do not have total recall. I barely have any recall at all.
My shrink used to tell me over and over and over - BE IN THE MOMENT. I never have been and I find it almost impossible. I am either looking back, looking ahead or just not looking at all.
I feel like I've only been a part-time participant in my life.
So many years, so many different adventures, so many losses, so much ... and I remember so little.
Going way back, I have only one recollection of the apartment I lived in with my brother, mother and father, and dog Bunchi. I see the kitchen table and the hallway. That's it. Long ago one of the many self-help books which don't seem to have helped much told me to "find the little girl I had been" in order to comfort her.
I tried and tried and tried - I could not find her anywhere. I searched places I could remember (the apartment on 81st Street, my grandmother's apartment on 79th, Sacred Heart School where I went for the 1st and 2nd grades --- i couldn't find (see) myself in any of those places. It actually became quite scary. Did I exist? Had I existed? Was I already at that age, from newborn to 7 or 8, blocking out my senses?
From there I went to the house in Connecticut to which my brother, mother and I moved - without my father. I can conjur up some images of me in the big house but they get jumbled up. In some I am in a certain room that is my bedroom, and in others I'm in another room that is my bedroom. I know that at some point each room was my bedroom but I don't know which came first and can't place my mother's or brother's bedroom in correct corresponding order either. I see the house without my grandparents living in it and while I know they did live with us for a time I can't place which room they were in. I do see myself sitting with my grandmother in the living room.
I remember the attic = first it was both a place where my brother and I held shows with these amazing puppets that came from somewhere. A king, a prince, a princess, a horse, a jester - probably about two feet high - very realistic. There were props and a huge theatrical stage. Don't know where it all came from and don't know where it all went. But at least I remember them.
4th and 5th Grades - public school - can't find myself there at all. But strangely I remember the name of my 3rd grade teacher - Mrs. Lemoyne.
I have one image in my mind of a stepfather - last name Hydenau. I don't know his first name, don't know if I ever did. It was, I was told in later years, a very short marriage.
But the image I have of him is in what appears to be the living room (upstairs instead of downstairs for some reason at this point), but which room I also have a clear memory of being my brother's bedroom. I can see him so clearly, in a cast from the top of his head to his hips, face, ears and arms the only parts of him showing - recovering from a broken neck. (The broken neck which, my mother many years later said upon hearing of his death on the Autobahn in Cologne. had "used up all his luck.")
This "total recall" brings me to around 13 or 14, I think. Maybe 12.
I'll continue this in a day or so Going to try to see what I can recall from the next 10 years or so. I already know it's not going to be much.