July 22, 2008

first memory

Today we had a series of three writing exercises. Before we began, we had to write down our first memory. The first exercise was to make up a character and write a fiction piece describing the memory from the character's point of view. The second exercise was to write a poem about the memory. The third was to write a non-fiction account of it. Here is the third:

I think it was my birthday, maybe number three, but also, maybe it wasn't because we usually spent them at Papa Gino's. My mom used to be a product manager for Cabbage Patch Dolls, among other things, and she must have brought home a prototype for a new toy. She must have invited some of my friends to gather 'round as she showed how to play with the toy. What I remember, though, is this surge of jealousy and anger. No, this is my mom, and also, hey, my birthday, so back off, and let my mom play with me. As I write this, the anger is towards my friends and not my mom for ignoring me, though up until now I always remembered resenting her instead.

Here's the first fiction part, too. I made up a male character who was in jail, convicted of killing his mother. Yeah, real uplifting.

When I think back to my earliest memory, I think of my mother and how even then, she always favored others over me. It was my birthday and Aunt Betty had just given me a red fire truck she bought down at the dollar store on her way to the party. I remember my mother taking this toy over to my cousin Jimmy and helping him clip off the pieces of plastic that held the truck to its cardboard container. Then I watched as she handed it to him, and Jimmy raced around the living room with my toy clutched in his little hand.

I didn't want to post the poem because though my intention was to write a true, personal piece, I was still living in this sort of fictional world after the first exercise and I think a lot of the poem was made up. It sounds really personal, but I don't want to give the impression that these words are entirely how I feel. Anyway, whatever, here's that part, too.

I see your hands, there is no face
On me, or you, or the girl I'm sitting next to
I see a gift, and it belongs to me
But you're helping her, and inside I'm crying
I think of how you were great to me
And in reality I shouldn't have been so selfish
To think I should keep you all to my own
When you think back on that moment
You would never see my jealousy
And that's precisely why I remained an only child

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