I stumbled across a pretty nifty blog the other day (written by a fellow Steph!) called w is for writing. It’s pretty cool… you should check it out.
Anyway, Steph has been doing a few exercises lately from Margret Geraghty’s book “The Five-Minute Writer”, a nice looking little book full of short and sweet writing exercises. Right up my street! Anywho, Steph posted up her response to one of the exercises from “The Five-Minute Writer” called “Public places, private memories”. I thought it looked fun so I thought I might post my own response… and beg for someone to donate a copy of this book to me as I’m painfully broke and can’t afford to buy another book right now.
“Public places, private memories” is all about how a setting can have a powerful effect on our emotions, senses and memories and general. It’s about the ties we have to a particular place where something big or something minute occurred that changed us in some way.
Here we go…
- …where you were happy
- Specifically recently… in my Memom’s recliner, in the living room, just before dinner. She’s in the kitchen cooking up something amazing (as always), smells wafting through the open planned living area. My Granddad is asleep on the couch, lightly snoring and my husband is sitting in the other recliner, tapping away at his laptop doing goodness knows what. I felt so relaxed, half asleep, drifting in and out of sleep, warm and comfortable.
- …where you were miserable
- I was originally miserable here in London, but now I’m not so that doesn’t really count I guess. I was pretty miserable in middle school, seventh grade in particular when, yet again, we upped and moved. This time we moved over an hour and a half away. In the blink of any eye I lost my friends and had very little contact with my grandparents. Then, after making friends in my new school, we moved again back to where we started from. It was a pretty tumultuous year and I spend a lot of it being miserable.
- …where you were angry
- Hm. See above. But also in the laundry room of one of my mother’s last houses… N and I had our first fight as a married couple only a few days after the wedding there and I just remember being so furious at him and standing in there crying because I didn’t know if getting married had been the right thing.
- …where you had your first kiss
- Oh god. Erk. Okay… in the doorway of my bedroom when I was in seventh grade. Turbulent year indeed!
- …you found exciting
- The backyard of my Memom and Granddad’s old house. There was so much to: an ancient, rusty swing-set held in place by concrete with my hand stamped into it; a swimming pool that, to me, was as big as a lake; a massive tree that I could climb and plenty of hiding places for a rousing game of hide and seek with my little sister L.
- …where you felt safe
- Corny line alert… look away now if your subject to stomach cramps over sentimental mush…. I feel safe every night in bed with N. I know nothing bad can happen to me there because he won’t let it.
- …where you felt frightened
- The Mysterious Mansion in Gatlinburg. I hate, hate, hate haunted houses. Not the real ones… I’ve been in a few of those and was relatively fine. I hate the jokey attraction haunted houses where people in costumes jump out at you. The Mysterious Mansion played up to all of my fears as a kid: the dark, ghosts, loud noises… I had a complete freak out there the first time. A few years later we went back and even though I was older I still had to wait outside. I just don’t do those sorts of places… I won’t even go to The London Dungeons because I know I can’t handle it.
- …where you were lonely
- London, the first six months I lived here. At the time I didn’t have any friends or distractions from the fact that I was (or might as well have been) a bajillion miles from home and missing my family and friends terribly. My life was wake up, work, go home, sleep. It’s not a hell of a lot different now but at least I have friends to chat to throughout the day, people to go out for drinks with and the like. I have serious anxiety issues—I don’t like crowds and I hate having to meet new people and make friends.
- …you’d like to return to
- Madrid. I loved the city, the heat, the people, the shopping, the food… It’s actually one of my favorite places in the world! I speak very little Spanish (and it’s all irrelevant and wrong anyhow) but even with the language barrier I fell in love with Madrid the first time I was there. From Plaza Mayor to Mingo’s, it’s just an amazing place to be.
- …you dislike or disliked in the past
- I hated my 8th grade middle school, Hebron Middle. I just didn’t have a good time there, didn’t make friends… I didn’t even go to my 8th grade dance because I just didn’t mesh well with anyone there. They all already had their cliques and little groups and at that age I don’t think kids like to integrate new people into their circle. So I had acquaintances and such but no good friends. It was a sort of hell for me.
- …you never want to see again
- Oh God… The Mysterious Mansion for this one too.
- …where you felt loved
- Paris, on top of the Eiffel Tower. It was totally cliché, standing there with N and having him tell me he wanted to give me the world, that he wanted us to be a part of “all the people below, living their lives together”. It was one of the most heartfelt moments I’ve ever experienced and it was when I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that N and I were going to make it.
- …where you loved
- Lake Reba, Kentucky, the moment my future husband surprised me with scones and jam, six months overdue.
- …where you made friends
- At Berea College. I may have fallen out of touch with a lot of them but I still met some lovely people there who I won’t soon forget.
- …where you made an enemy or enemies
- Catholic school. My best friend was also my worst enemy. Tricky relationship, that.
- …where you were ill
- When I was younger and I was sick, I used to spend it on my Memom and Granddad’s couch. They used to cover it with a sheet to keep me cool and comfy and would fix me warm jello and chicken noodle soup. Gingerale and Sprite were on tap and there was always someone re-wetting my washcloth for my forehead. It’s a shame being sick as an adult is nothing like that anymore.
- …where you were shocked
- Walking across campus in Berea College, finding out some devastating news from home. I won’t go into this either because it’s private for me and the person involved but I just remember what a beautiful day it was that day, a light breeze in the trees and so very sunny. Such a contrast to that phone call.
- …that inspired you
- Notre Dame, in Paris. That place moved me to tears when I walked inside and looked past the bevy of touristy types (not that I wasn’t one!). The way the light came in through the Rose Window and the candles flickering off of the stone walls… there was something truly reverential about Notre Dame, despite my lack of religious affiliation. Truly inspiring.
- …where you lost something important
- In Berea, at the bottom of the Pinnacle.
- …where you felt uncomfortable or upset
- Louisville International Airport… everytime I leave Kentucky this place is like a purgatory for me. I’m in limbo, transition, and I’m always crying. I still have the tissue my Memom gave me in my coat pocket as we said goodbye.
- …you’d like to live – if you could
- In Fuerteventura… bliss.
- …you remember from a favorite book or film
- Not sure, actually. I was pretty engrossed in the Harry Potter books when I was younger so maybe Hogwarts? I dunno!
What about you? Where are some of your places?