"It's just emotion that's taken me over..."
by susan dayley in ,

I recently read, “Memories endure when associated with emotionally intense events.” I decided to experiment with writing about emotion filled memories, which were shaped by anger, hurt, love, anticipation or trust, without explicitly naming the emotion.

1. Walking home from the grade school bus stop, seven blocks later, I would turn west to face the setting sun for half a block before the final stretch down the alley. In January the sun was perfectly positioned for over a week to reflect its orange rays off of the ice covered street, stretching out like a path to greet me. I was stopped by its beauty. I wanted to share it, to drag someone there so that they could stand beside me in silence and watch the light. But each day I would encounter that moment of fleeting beauty alone, and after a pause of homage, pass through it, like an intruder, to turn down the alley. Then February came and I never saw it again. I never dragged someone there to stand with me in silent worship.

2. First there was the double hand grip around the branch above my nine-year-old head, swing one leg up, then the other, then twist and reach with my right hand to grasp the broken stump of a branch so that I could pull myself up. Finally I could remove the book from between my teeth and set it securely in the space above formed from where five main branches grew upward. From there, each movement, each hand grip, foot placement, and the speckled light of the sun through the willow leaves, was an unconscious sensation. In the branches of the tree there were no reprimands or criticisms: just the friendship of deeply veined bark, slender leaves, sunshine, blue sky, and Louisa May Alcott or Jack London.

3. Three, two, one, and the two swings launched in unison from the picnic table we’d dragged into position. Two sets of skinny legs stretched out from flowered shorts until they could reach no further, and then knees bent, we’d pump back. Our arms began to move, in rhythm, mimicking what we'd seen highschool drill teams do. Then, a brief stop on the table, a twist of the chains, out again backwards and back to untwist. The routine was synchronized, awkward, and reflected the ingenuity only appreciated by thirteen year old girls. It also reflected the awkward, quirky, synchronized friendship that Lori and I lived for six years. Tator tots with extra catsup, a shared chocolate milk shake with two straws and Sean Cassidy. Three, two, one: jump from the swings, the routine was over.

4. My sister-in-law looks at me sympathetically, engulfing me with her presence on a sofa in her home. She reaches out like she’s my best friend, so I miss the knife behind her words until they are said. “She [another sister-in-law] said that ‘Susan and I are not as good of friends as she thinks we are.’”

5. “Did you know this is a blue moon night?” The conversation was easy, the closeness of our bodies felt like home. “How long would you like to spend with someone?” he asked, caught up in the moment of a full moon, crickets, and the closeness. I swallow hard, grip his hands tighter, and respond in kind, “I guess it depends on how long he asks for…” It was an awkward back gate approach to a subject too scary to face head on. A deep breath and he says, “How about forever?”


Cami said...

Wow. This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing those thoughts. My mind is now flooded with memories of all kinds, and I have realized that this is why we can't just shrug off the emotion that is so overwhelming sometimes. Sometimes emotion has to be endured, and sometimes, if it's "good" emotion, it can be enjoyed over and over again, thanks to the memories. Right now I am reflecting on a lot of really joyful memories! :-) I especially enoyed #5 on your post. It actually tweaked some emotion in this half dead heart of mine...

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