I Remember

I remember the splash of the waves against the side of my grandfather’s wooden boat, my brother standing proudly by the mast.

I remember sitting in the back, snuggled like a chick under my mother’s arms, the sea salt and my long blond ponytail lashing my cheeks.

I remember being passed to land like a bag of sugar, an exulted terrified scream then the freedom of the warm rocks beneath my feet. Away I sped, an uninhabited island awaiting exploration by five-year-old me. 

I remember our trusted blue Opel Kadett swaying in the sling, over land, over the ship; a pendulum of our future. To stay, to go. Awed, fearful, I awaited its plunge to earth. 

I remember the car’s thudding descent to deck, the rousing cheer from family on shore, a cheer that turned to tears as the giant ship eased from the dock. 

I remember the confusion. Why cry at this adventure?

I remember my guilt. Should I cry too? A guilt often repeated. 

I remember the hastily arranged assembly. The morning’s floor wax still potent and sickening. A keening nausea as we heard the news. Mr Kewley died last night; the incomprehensible words sought comprehension in my nine-year-old heart and mind. 

I remember the poke in the chest, the verbal jibes, and the scornful faces. ‘Why aren’t you crying?’ they taunted. ‘He was your favourite teacher after all. Taught you all that creative writing rubbish.’

I remember the searing slurs.

I remember my silence. Shaking my head as I walked away, not shedding a tear. 

I remember once home just sitting on the sofa, stroking patterns of light and dark gold, the softness reassuring, safe. Not the usual TV or books. Just space. To think. Here the disbelief turned to truth. 

I remember my mother’s concerned questions. Then we rocked, me as a baby in her arms. We both wept at the loss. This was my first death; I had been lucky. 

I remember my first kiss, stolen across a lilo, the warm Mediterranean Sea lapping my body as I paddled languidly to land. My first kiss! A moment I will always remember, bubbling with excitement, with unadulterated joy of being so grown-up. 

I remember splashing along the shore, the air mattress dangling loosely in my grasp, ripples of emotions echoing into eternity.

I remember my feigned indignant recount of THE kiss to my mother. A secret I’d pressed like a diamond to my heart to treasure forever. A secret bursting to be shared. 

I remember her brief questions, her sweet smile. ‘We are meeting later,’ I declared. And so we did!

I remember the strums of the bouzouki, the warm light and night, seeing people on the dance floor, chatting at the tables. There he was! Heading over to me. Almost swooning, a maelstrom of emotions rushed through my body. We had a quick chat. He asked my age. ‘Fourteen,’ I replied nonchalantly. A surprised look flittered across his face then quickly vanished as he invited me and my family to meet his family. I was stricken!

I remember rueing my young age. 

I remember longing for its return. 

I remember a normal spring day, the German lesson in the Portakabin going as usual. My five friends and I. Unflappable Mrs Stockums at the front. As normal in the sixth form we discussed topics with ease and determination. 

I remember the quiet giggles. Who was it? Katy? Sally? Chris? As a fast moving contagion the laughter skipped from student to student. Side-bursting laughter. We tried to rein it in. Honestly. Amidst the uproarious chuckles, we cast furtive nervous glances to our teacher. Was she laughing too? Impossible!

I remember the cacophony of pure happiness. At life itself. Such a jubilant sound of innocence and delight at being. We barely dared look at one another, such was the danger of setting off another cascade of stomach-churning laughter. 

I remember the ache of my side, the slam on the teacher’s desk. ‘Go outside,’ she mumbled, pointing at the door. ‘Ten minutes then come back silently. And sit apart.’ The biting breeze startled us as we marched up and down, calming the inexplicable immersive laughter. It hadn’t quite disappeared but already I was mourning its departure. 

I remember those summers of sizzling sun, drifting in dinghies along thirsty riverbeds. 

I remember those school days, whether good or bad, always coddled at home.

I remember too much. 

I remember too little. 

© Annika Perry, February 2019

58 thoughts on “I Remember

  1. rijanjks says:

    What a beautiful expression of microcosms of moments in time, moments that were forever branded to your heart and soul. Just amazing, Annika! Touching and poignant writing!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Your warm and thoughtful comment touches me deeply, Jan! I love your expression of ‘microcosms’ of time … perfect! It is strange because they obviously were firmly fixed in my memory, but what I hadn’t realised was the smaller details that were firmly etched in my mind. It’s amazing, by closing my eyes, I placed myself at the time! This was a pure joy to write … the beginning came to me in the middle of the night and one of those occasions I just had to sit up and write it down.

  2. D. Wallace Peach says:

    So unbelievably beautiful, Annika. I hope someday this ends up in one of your books, just as it is, not a word altered, deleted, or added. These are your memories, and yet the journey sounds so familiar, poignant and nostalgic. I loved this. ❤ Gorgeous.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Diana, your comment means a lot to me and particularly that you don’t think anything needs changing. Until the very last minute of posting I found myself editing a word here, a comma there! I would definitely like to do something with this in the future … I’ll see which way to go! Warmest thanks for your wonderful feedback. x

  3. balroop2013 says:

    This seems like poetry Annika. Your words and memories merge so beautifully! I have read this piece twice and could associate with many of those moments you describe with élan.
    Memories come crowding to fill our hearts with delight and despair …crying caught my attention, as I too have such memories, they refuse to recede however hard I try! Yes, slurs and silence speak to me even today…years could not erase those faces, those times when there was a drought of tears and when they would flow at will.
    I am glad most of your memories are those of happier times. Thank you for sharing.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Balroop, heartfelt thanks for your insightful and thoughtful comment … your words adding depth to my piece. I am overjoyed you felt I described the moments with élan (such a terrific word which is rarely seen!) and I wanted the words and memories to flow fluidly as one … so happy you saw this here. Also, I’m very proud that you, a gifted poet, felt my writing was like poetry … now I can’t stop smiling! 😀

      Crying is part of all our lives (and if not, I would almost worry), and particularly as young we feel freer, hopefully, to give release to our emotions. Oh, I could definitely have added a few more cry moments but the piece flowed by itself and yes, I really was happy for the most and if not, I had wonderful support at home.

      I feel for you and the memories you would rather recede but fail to do so … it is a sadness that one learns to live with. Love & hugs xx

    • Annika Perry says:

      Memories over time become the bedrock of our lives, pivotal in forming us to the person we are today … this was an inspiring way to examine a handful of my special memories. Heartfelt thanks for reading and your positive comment, Bette! ❤️

  4. Lori says:

    Thank you for sharing your memories. I felt like I was a fly on the wall watching you live those days.

    Since I moved back to my hometown, on occasion I have the opportunity to drive by where I got my first kiss. After 27 years away, it’s like I’m 14 again when I go by that place. Everything about that day comes back to me. Something I barely remembered when I lived so far away.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Lori, it was fun to sketch out a few of my memories in this format and share here!

      Memories are indeed fickle and it is strange how those buried so deep are reawakened, as with your first kiss on this highway. Not only do you travel along this stretch of road, you now also travel 27 years back in time, re-living that first kiss and all the emotions for 14-year-old you! It can be hard to suddenly jump back to 2019 and reconcile with the present, I imagine!

    • Annika Perry says:

      I’m both overjoyed and humbled by your wonderful comment, Shari! ❤️ There are always certain posts one publishes with some trepidation… this piece is close to my heart and I so wanted others to feel the power of my emotions and be carried away. It’s amazing and moving for me to know that you held your breath at times, gasped at times whilst reading this … I’ll treasure your words! Xx

    • Annika Perry says:

      Mackay, I think most of us have a hidden passion in our lives and it often takes an inspirational teacher or such to show us how to craft this ability, to inspire us to keep learning, honing our skill! I was so lucky! 😀

  5. Mary Smith says:

    This is beautiful, Annika. Mr Kewley would be proud of you and your enchanting way with words. I love your last two lines: ‘I remember too much. I remember too little.’ Among the kaleidoscope of memories, there’s always a flicker of one we can’t quite grasp.

  6. Miriam says:

    You have such a gift with words Annika. You drew me into your memories as though I was living them again with you. A stunning piece of writing.
    By the way, I remember too little too but what you shared with us was priceless. Hugs my friend. xx 🙂

    • Annika Perry says:

      Miriam, we crossed paths! 😀😀 I was just writing on your post and came back here to have a quick look!

      Wow! Thank you so much for your wonderful comment … it means so much to me.

      Memories are strange, at times I feel overwhelmed by so many, yet I feel I don’t remember much at all. A real dichotomy and when my son was little I would recall the day in a mantra, trying to sear every special new revelation of the day to my mind … until of course I saw the impossible reality of these actions. hugs to you too and hope you have a very special day! xx🌺

      • Miriam says:

        Annika, we’re clearly on the same wavelength right now! Yes, I agree with you, our memories can be so overwhelming and yet at times, like you, it’s as though I remember nothing. Scary at times isn’t it? Writing like you have however is a wonderfully creative way of bringing many of them to the surface. Hugs back and I hope you enjoy your day too. xx 💖

    • Annika Perry says:

      Clive, heartfelt thanks for your moving comment … it means so much to me. He was an inspirational teacher and one who stretched us for us to write our very best … first efforts were never enough – and rightly so!

  7. delphini510 says:

    Annika, I am totally enchanted by this extraordinary form of writing part of your life story.
    I love each one and haven’t for long read something so captivating.

    Your poetic phrase ” Pendulum to our future ” I would love to use for a poem. 🙂
    It does in only a few lines describe your feeling of leaving one place for another.

    I remember our trusted blue Opel Kadett swaying in the sling, over land, over the ship; a pendulum of our future. To stay, to go. Awed, fearful, I awaited its plunge to earth. ”

    This could be an unusual book…. 💕

    Miriam

    • Annika Perry says:

      Wow! Miriam, your comment leaves my spirits flying! Thank you so much! I am so happy you found this piece and its unusual format captivating … I found it wonderfully inspirational and liberating. Oh yes, this could make a very unusual book, one would have to ensure that it never lagged but continued to propel itself forward and capture the reader’s imagination. Who knows … I’ll what I do in the future!

      Oh, please do use this phrase, Pendulum to our future, in a poem and I can’t wait to read it! Have you started it yet? You can always use a pingback to my blog if you want. It is an awesome sight to see something so solid and heavy, swinging freely in the air!

      Wishing you a magical weekend filled with joy and laughter! hugs xx 🌺🤗📖🎈

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