Friday, January 29, 2010

Memory's Episodes #1

This semester, I'm taking an online literature class called Multicultural Autobiographies and today I remembered that I had to turn in a "memory episode" of my own about some experience in my adolescence where I had a conflict about my own identity, religion, role models, blah blah blah college-application-sounding-kind-of-crap. I wasn't looking forward to it at all simply because whenever those type of assignments come around, I have nothing of significance to write about. However, I only had about forty minutes to get this assignment done so there wasn't any time for groaning/moping about how I have nothing interesting to contribute other than stupid teenage-angstyness. Sooooo that's what I gave them. A story about me being a silly, sad little teenager. Alors, je vous présente ma composition.

It's not every day you cry in front of your junior English class -- at least not at my high school.

For the past three weeks, my teacher pushed us to write our "memory's episodes" through poetry and narrative. We wrote "I Am" poems, "So much depends on..." poems, and unsent letters, but nothing was more daunting than the "scar stories." Yikes.

I bore the scars of a newly long-distanced relationship. Six months earlier, my boyfriend of a year and a half moved eight hundred miles away to attend UC Berkeley. Though we talked every day and occasionally visited each other, I still had nights when I fell asleep crying.

All but a single lamplight was turned off as a timid chorus of pencils reluctantly scratched in spiral notebooks and diaries that hadn't been opened since the Lisa Frank days. This was it. The moment in which I began to compose what would go down in my personal history as the most sincere, melodramatic, and thoroughly embarrassing piece of poetry I've ever produced.

"Should I use first person? Am I putting too much emphasis on this mirror metaphor? Was I crying 'buckets of tears' or 'crocodile tears'? Is anyone even going to care about this?" After a few days of revising and editing, I was seriously discouraged. I had no clear metaphor and my scars seemed about a trillionth times less important than anyone else's.

Why I chose to read that poem aloud to the class is completely beyond me now, but I opened my mouth, I tensed, I shook, I cried, and I ran awkwardly out of the room.

My new rule of thumb: Don't read anything aloud to your peers if you're too embarrassed to even read it aloud to yourself. Especially if it's about love.

1 comment: