Mining memories

messy-deskWas listening to CBC this morning and there was some program on it (I forget which one) about memory, about the pathways of memory, about how if we rehash memories they create rivers in our neurons, meaning they’ll be easier to recall later.

So, between them, and writing exercises starting “I remember”, I’ve been digging a bit.

On the radio program they said “We always remember our first kiss”. I had to go mining deep for that one. I remember a lot of memorable kisses – the fly by one at college, the first one from an unreasonably handsome man who I never thought would notice me, wet kisses, dry kisses, passionate kisses, loving kisses, pecks on the cheek. But my first? I scrounged around a bit in my files.

Ah, yes, there it was, in the group of most embarrassing moments. My first boyfriend had tried to french kiss me. I reacted badly. Had never even thought of French kissing, had no idea about tongues and such. He politely backed off, always a considerate fellow, and we never French kissed again for our entire relationship.

Of course, next boyfriend was specifically recruited to teach me French kissing. I am grateful for them both.

That file, the most embarrassing moments, is annoyingly large. I remember asking a friend to come with me to the prom, RIGHT after I had the most hideous haircut of my life – he, unsurprisingly, said no. I remember bursting into tears at a management meeting just before I left work, snivelling and weeping like some half-baked depressive. I was sick sick then, my MS just kicking me about, but I didn’t know that. I felt like I was having a nervous breakdown, and probably looked like it, too.

I remember stupid things I said, foolish things I did. They’re all there, ready to be retrieved and placed on some invented person so I can feel them again (eek) or make them feel real for my characters.

I remember happy things, too – the joy of feeling my babies moving inside me, the first sight of them, the time I ran for politics and made a good speech.

Sad times, too – losses and absences and heartbreak.

Excitement. Thrills. Laughter.

It’s good we can retrieve these things, imagine what our characters must feel when they go through them. It’s a great place to go mining for inspiration.

But I can’t help wondering if revisiting these feelings changes me, too.

2 thoughts on “Mining memories

  1. shewrite63

    Thanks for sharing your memories and experiences.

    I was listening to the same radio program while attempting to write and sort through vacation photos here in Ottawa.

    Can’t say I remember my first kiss. I didn’t keep much of a diary through my teen years.

    Once one has children, I think the desire to document and record feelings, events, etc. becomes stronger. That’s if one has the time…

    I recall reading a Robertson Davies biography in the 1990s (he was still alive at publication time and the book was almost 2 inches thick) He got ideas for his Fifth Business trilogy characters while revisiting his journals from school days, from notes about people he knew, people he had admired or… disliked.

    I got inspiration for some of the characters in my novel from a combination of people I knew in my small home town, their quirks or redeeming qualities.

    As one who writes often in journals and saves mementos of events, tickets, photos, I hope that once my memory goes later in life, I can return to the journals and read how I felt at certain times, my opinions on current events and players.

    Thanks again,



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