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

123 thoughts on “I Remember

  1. joylennick says:

    Hi Annika, Thanks for reading Richard’s interview and for sharing so many of your precious memories.So well expressed too! Good ones are such a blessing as the years speed by. Best wishes.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Joy, warmest thanks for your lovely comment. How true that it is a blessed life when one has good memories to recall … I find that often the ‘bad’ ones tend to be filed further away until triggered by another thought, word, song etc. As such a prolific writer yourself it means a lot to me that you found this piece well expressed … once I started the writing came seamlessly and I didn’t want to stop! 😀

  2. jjspina says:

    Beautiful memories so eloquently penned, Annika. Lovely to read and imagine. We all have memories but to be able to write prose like that is a gift. 🤗 😘

  3. JanBeek says:

    Brought back memories for me, too. I remember my first kiss. His name was Gilbert. We were behind the gymnasium. It was a warm May day and birds all around in the trees were singing. Ah yes, I too remember too much – – – and too little.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Jan, I’m delighted this awoke such tender memories for you too … of Gilbert and you one warm May day. Your comment oozes with poetry and thank you for sharing. Here’s to memories … those which fall easily to our recollection and those hidden away from us,tantilisingly out of reach!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Jina, that is what makes memories even more special … everyone can relate to each other’s but yet they are unique! Delighted this brought back memories for you. Nostalgia is a tricky place. Full of joys, yet often sadness and loss … but one finds more understanding of oneself whilst there!

  4. Tiny says:

    Love this beautiful piece, Annika! The pictures flickered by like in a movie. And I paused to think what I remembered…too much and too little is a great way to put it.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Helen, I love how you ‘saw’ this like a movie – makes me smile! 😀 I wanted it to read as a cascade of vignette and great that these became so visual! Wishing you a great week!

  5. Mike says:

    What an evocative piece of writing Annika. Memory is such a strong force and can be stirred by many things including music, sounds and smell.
    Reading this piece began to remind me of several.things from the past. It’s strange how you tend to remember the good things and tend to forget the bad.
    Thanks for the memories Annika
    Mike

    • Annika Perry says:

      Mike, thank you so much for your interesting comment and thoughts. As you say all the senses play a huge role in aiding our memories, music I find especially potent and a particular song can transport us to an earlier time! I’ve often wondered why bad memories are hidden away and wonder if it isn’t for our own good … that is how we all cope with life to a certain extent. Glad this piece helped bring some of your own memories to the fore – hopefully happy ones!

  6. Mabel Kwong says:

    This is such a powerful piece of writing, Annika. As Mary said, memories are so powerful. Both the good and not-so-pleasant memories are very powerful and we remember them after so many years. Or perhaps they stick with us all these years. Really liked how you presented contrasting memories here in short sentences yet very descriptive ones. These memories seemed like turning points in our lives; ‘firsts’, being picked out, being different – and above all it seemed like you were in the moments as you lived those memories then, and also right now. ‘I remember too little.’ This last line reminds me how we might not figure out everything that we’ve been through or even realise what’s going on at a certain point in our life. The best we can do is just live and recount, recollect and remember. I guess that’s one of the mysteries of life – we won’t ever know the answers to every question or every event in life.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Mabel, the power memories hold over us is never fully appreciated and as you say, they stick with us for years, often a whole lifetime, affecting our actions, decisions even if subconsciously. You’re right that I seemed to have written about many ‘pivotal’ moments in this piece, and again this was not a conscious decision but these often burn the brightest in our minds and hearts. The last line came to me as I often feel sad at how many experiences are forgotten, wonderful memories and ones that might give us insight into ourselves. Your comment and reflections mean a lot to me, Mabel and thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Yes, may we indeed continue to ‘live and recount, recollect and remember.’ All our lives are unique and original … we have so much to share! 😀

      • Mabel Kwong says:

        Pivotal moments do burn very bright within us. I also think the smaller, ordinary moments do too…and when those moments fade away, they hurt the most. Again, Annika, this was such a lovely read and thank you for sharing. You have touched so many of us and struck a chord within us in one way or another 😀

  7. maryannniemczura says:

    Memories are so powerful. We need to share them with others. As I read your post, I tried to recall that first kiss. I remember the first time a boy held my hand and ripples of gossip spread everywhere. I wrote about it to a friend whose mother spoke with mine about it the event. Was this an illicit affair? This happened on the school bus on the way home. Odd, but after that, my friend and I no longer communicated. This has been in the back of my memory bank until now and after I read this powerful, descriptive post of feelings. Adults seem to blow things out of proportion too. Do they fear losing the little child? You have captured your memories which cascade down the rocks like a waterfall. The best part is that no one can take them away from you. They are yours. Your life has been forever changed by such touching events. Your form and style evoke memories in my life. Kudos to you. This should become part of a new collection. Open the mysterious trunk in the attic and out will pour generations of people, places and things – all YOUR memories. Awesome post!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Wow! Mary Ann, your comment is wonderful and I’m so touched by your thoughts and words. Your imagery of memories is mesmerising … I’m indeed inspired to ‘Open the mysterious trunk in the attic’ and write a much longer work … drawing on my memories … especially after your heartfelt emotions on reading my post. I’m so happy you were drawn to this form and style and that ‘I Remembe’r recalled events in your own life. Why would your friend tell her mother about your letter? I wonder if she didn’t secretly like the boy that held your hand and that is why the friendship faltered? It is sad when these things happen, unresolved, unexplained.

      My warmest thanks again for your amazing support and encouragement, Mary Ann!

      • maryannniemczura says:

        Annika, I am blown away by your comment just now. Wouldn’t it be grand to “open that mysterious trunk in the attic?” My mother stored her piano sheet music and other treasures in an old trunk. I think it is time for me to delve through my old letters from the Heidelberg days as a student written to my parents. Why that other mother told mine is beyond me. I think she feared I was in a relationship when I was not. I simply stopped writing so that mother couldn’t snoop into her daughter’s letters. Terrible. No respecting space there either. Have a grand time writing more of these treasures. Enjoy the weekend, dear lady.

    • Mabel Kwong says:

      I really like this comment, Mary. So agree no one can take memories away from you. Memories do change our lives, and they are special in that they made us feel a certain way at a certain point in our lives, unique to us.

  8. roughwighting says:

    Now, because of your writing, I will always remember the things that you remember, Annika. Thoughts come to mind when I read this post. First, your writing is gorgeous and I love every metaphor and simile. Second, it’s so amazing how similarly we have lived through friendships and first kisses, and teachers and first deaths and amazing joys and sorrows. I thank you so much for sharing yours so openly and beautifully.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Ahh, Pam … thank you so much for your wonderful comment! ❤️ I love how we have shared so many similar life events, feeling the depth of despair and sadness, the lofty height of absolute joy! It means a lot that you enjoyed my writing style here so much; one that inspires me but I wanted to ensure it never lulled or fell flat. When writing such a piece it cannot be anything but open … and I considered whether it was too much so but think our experiences in life are universal. I’m glad this raised thoughts of your own as you read the post, hopefully awakening uplifting memories, and funny how even the smallest event from young can be remembered in vivid detail as if only a few days ago.

      • roughwighting says:

        I tell my writing students (and myself) that the scariest thing about writing is to be open and vulnerable, and the only thing that will make our writing GOOD is to be open and vulnerable. In that way, when we write about ourselves and our experiences, we write universal truths. That is exactly what you did here. Bravo. xo

  9. Sue Dreamwalker says:

    What a heartfelt read as you remembered, I so enjoyed from beginning to end Annika.. Your words evoked those memories as you walked us through them with you..
    Thank you for sharing such a precious part of you with us.

    Love and Blessings my friend ❤

    • Annika Perry says:

      Sue, as always you see to the very heart of my writing and this was indeed a ‘precious part’ of me and it called to be written! A five in the morning thought that would not leave me! As it was so personal I was slightly nervous posting this yet wanted to share … and so glad I did! Your lovely and thoughtful comment means so much to me … thank you for walking along with me down memory lane!

      love & hugs xx❤️

    • Annika Perry says:

      Julie, as this was almost a ‘stream of consciousness’ piece I hadn’t deliberately aimed to balance all the various elements of youth … but found my experiences as young seems to been, quite naturally, a mixture of joy, sadness, disappointment and pure laughter! So glad you enjoyed ‘I Remember’ and thank you so much for your lovely comment. Happy Writing/Editing! xx

    • Annika Perry says:

      Libby, these was one of those pieces that seemed to ‘write itself’ in the first instance … and I nearly couldn’t keep up with my thoughts. I’ve loved sharing my memories here and your comment means a lot. Happy Writing!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Connie, I wasn’t too sure at first how this format would turn out but loved working with it! The ideas and writing flowed freely, finding its own organic rhythm. So happy you enjoyed the piece so much!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Barbara, yes, my memories are very strong, sometimes I feel it would be better to forget a bit more! 😀 Writing this proved liberating and cathartic … the thoughts coming freely to me! We all have so many memories, and although different they all, as you write, reflect our loss and bittersweet moments.

    • Annika Perry says:

      David, I thought everyone had such powerful memories, but talking to family and friends realise not! I’m undecided which is best! 😀 Although for pieces such as this one I have an endless source of material!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Andrea, I’m smiling at all your adjectives and it means a lot that my writing evoked all of these … and more! 😀 So glad you became immersed ‘I Remember ‘! The last two lines came from the subconscious…and how true that the memories are bittersweet! I feel they become part of the foundation of oneself and help us move forward, gaining strength from them.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Life is a bit like that, we are all individuals and all unique, yet many of our experiences are universal … something that seems to be revealed as I read the comments and I’m glad this piece evokes some of yours, Dorothea! Thank you so much for your lovely comment and the last two lines were written before I was even really conscious of them! Happy Sunday and enjoy the sun in Cambridge! 😀

    • Annika Perry says:

      Jo, it was a very strange as writing the piece, the blurred outline of a memory became increasingly vivid and alive for me … transporting me to the time and I really hoped to convey that immediate feeling of the various recollections. So glad I have! 😀 Haha … I’m much better at keeping secrets now and there have been a few times since of intense overwhelming laughter but this one at school will always be special. Sometimes I wonder if our memories are pushed so far back because of our busyness and given space and peace they will come to the fore.

      Ps. Your afternoon yesterday sounds delightful and a lot of fun! Decades of great music!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Roy, wise words indeed and if we remembered too much I imagine our brains would be fried! 😀 When my son was young I wanted to recall every special moment and recited a litany of the day’s events … until I was mentally so exhausted and had to give up! The bits we remember paint a vivid image of our lives and that seems to be the way it should be! 😀

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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! ❤️

  13. 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! 😀

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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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