I Remember (Exercise)

  • SumoMe

This was an exercise done during one of the nonfiction classes I took. We were tasked with recalling something, be it a situation, a person, an event, what have you. We were then asked to break that into two parts. For the first part, each sentence must start with “I remember.”

Here is the “I remember” list:

I remember rain.
I remember hurried footsteps.
I remember hands shoved in pockets.
I remember head bowed.
I remember fumbling for the keys to the building first, the apartment door second.
I remember the screaming wouldn’t stop.
I remember it felt real.
I remember pacing the apartment.
I remember the screaming wouldn’t stop.
I remember opening the patio door.
I remember the sound of the bus passing.
I remember the clank of bottles as the bartender dumped the trash in the big bin.
I remember the screaming wouldn’t stop.
I remember it felt real.
I remember cowering in front of the couch, hands pressed to my ears.
I remember squeezing hard, pressing my ears in hopes they’d collapse.
I remember the screaming wouldn’t stop.
I remember it felt real.
I remember bolting out to the patio, arms raised, catching the rain.
I remember being soaked in minutes.
I remember cars cruising past, wheels splashing water up on the sidewalk.
I remember the screaming wouldn’t stop.
I remember it felt real.
I remember gripping the rotting bannister with both hands, white knuckle ride all the way.
I remember a dog barking from the street.
I remember the bartender and waitress out having a smoke underneath the back awning.
I remember the wood disintegrating in my grip.
I remember the dead potted plants and the decrepit wood shelf in the corner, rotting from years of rain.
I remember the screaming wouldn’t stop.
I remember it felt real.
I remember the soft squishy sensation of the fake flooring on the patio.
I remember the rusty metal holding the decaying wood.
I remember the whole thing moved if you leaned too much.
I remember the screaming wouldn’t stop.
I remember it felt real.
I remember the rain drifting into a mist.
I remember droplets of water beating steady off the gutters.
I remember the bar tender and waitress going back into the bar.
I remember it was Thursday, live music night.
I remember the screaming wouldn’t stop.
I remember it felt real.
I remember that it’s all in my head.

What strikes me most about this list is its physicality, and sensual intake. Rain. Fumbling for keys. Sound of buses, traffic. Rotting banister. Bartender out for a smoke. Squishiness. A dog barking. Physical mixes with the senses, absorbing the situation and the space in which it is happening rather than reacting or fighting against it, but there is a feel to it, too. There’s repetition of screaming and the sense that it is real.

For the second part, each sentence must start with the phrase “I don’t remember.” This is a little tricky at first because by attempting to recall what you don’t remember, you are remembering. You are remembering something, or convincing yourself you are remembering something, or you know it now, in hindsight, but there was no way for you to know it then.

Here is the “I don’t remember” list:

I don’t remember why I went.
I don’t remember why I just sit there.
I don’t remember why I gave answers.
I don’t remember why it seemed so obvious.
I don’t remember why I didn’t notice.
I don’t remember why I went.
I don’t remember being so specific.
I don’t remember giving permission for that.
I don’t remember why I didn’t throw the racquetball.
I don’t remember why I went.
I don’t remember why I shrugged it off.
I don’t remember agreeing.
I don’t remember shrugging as agreement.
I don’t remember that sensation.
I don’t remember that quiet tone.
I don’t remember the loop.
I don’t remember why I went.
I don’t remember why I kept going.
I don’t remember saying anything.
I don’t remember being so cold.
I don’t remember being so patient.
I don’t remember caring.
I don’t remember why I went.
I don’t remember how it all started.
I don’t remember changing it up.
I don’t remember why I went.
I don’t remember some of those conversations.
I don’t remember participating.
I don’t remember agreeing to this.
I don’t remember why I went.
I don’t remember why there is a disconnect.
I don’t remember this space.
I don’t remember what happened.
I don’t remember what was written.
I don’t remember why I went.
I don’t remember why I went back.
I don’t remember it the same.
I don’t remember what changed.
I don’t remember how that happened.
I don’t remember why I went.
I don’t remember much it seems
I don’t remember forgetting.
I don’t remember failure to recall.
I don’t remember why I went.
I don’t remember understanding.
I don’t remember knowing.
I don’t remember why it seems so obvious.
I don’t remember why I went.

There is phrase repetition again, this time it’s I don’t remember why I went. This list is more ethereal, though, not rooted in physical sensation or anything concrete. The only object mentioned is a racquetball. There is transformation in this piece, too, but it is more subtle. More is alluded to rather than stated, which I find curious. Like the reason was unknown to me then, and remains unknown to me now, but there has been a noticeable, tangible progression or shift. I am not the same person at the beginning of this list as I am by the end. It seems to cover a period of time whereas the “I remember” list covers a very specific moment.

It’s an interesting exercise. Curious how the mind works, depending on the prompts it is given. I may have to try this exercise again.

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