Wednesday, May 9, 2018


I've been doing a ton of writing lately, almost all of it in my head. Writing while I'm driving, writing while I'm walking alone, writing while I'm showering, sleeping, eating. Sometimes, writing while I'm listening.

At a party, recently, someone made a tiny comment about her husband, and the other women in the conversation, all laughed in solidarity. The woman loves her husband. He's a good husband. She knows it, and every one else knows it, too. A woman whose husband recently died said, "The hardest part of losing my husband is not having him around to complain about." That brought down the house. I came home, wrote down that line to put somewhere, later. Wasn't sure how, or if, it would fit with anything else I had, but knew it was too good not to save.

My dad taught me how to make hash as a child. We slid out the wooden cutting board from under the counter, and clamped the grinder into place, turning the clamp until it was good and tight. He put in leftovers from the fridge: pot roast, potatoes, carrots, onion. He got it started until it got a little easier, then I gave it a go. Turning, turning, turning, the mushy mess landing into the green ceramic bowl - the medium-sized stacking bowl that had been his mother's. Yellow was the big bowl, blue the small.

We took the hash and fried it up in a cast iron skillet, filling the house with cooking odors that took days to fully clear. I don't remember eating the hash - can't pull up a memory of the taste, only how it looked, felt and smelled.

How old was I, then, eight? Nine? My dad moved out when I was eleven, so it was before then. How many times have I thought of that before right now? Zero. Didn't know it was even a memory. The stacking bowls sit on the lower shelf of my lazy Susan. I use them all the time. I used to think if ever there were a fire, they'd be what I grabbed before running out the door. They are precious to me, all that I have from that grandmother I didn't meet. A part of her story that was part of my dad's, and now mine, and my children. Generational.

Memories stack up, there are large, medium and small ones. Sometimes they fit together and make sense, sometimes they get out of order and don't. Sometimes, we pull out one and use it with another, and only after a new order is created, see where the others fit.

Memoir writing is like that. Memories, events, emotions, experiences, words said and remembered, feelings resurrected and revisited. Chopped up, run through the grinders of time and memory, they make hash.

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