Writing to Remember Who You Are


I’m losing interest, falling asleep and getting hungry while trying to do school stuff. I leave the computer and go to the back room to finish a cinnamon roll and some coffee from last night. I’m doing school stuff again, but it’s just not right and I know I can’t get any real work done right now, so I veer off and decide I’m going to continue my sporadic job search which began last week or so. Over to the side of the main screen are ads and one right in the middle is entitled “Writing To Remember Who You Are During A Tough Job Search”. “Writing to remember who you are…” Isn’t that a nice idea? Isn’t that true for so many of us?

How many of us write to remember who we are after being lost in wrong decisions or other people’s expectations? How many of us write to find out who we are after living our whole lives for others? How many times have I done that? How many times have I written because I couldn’t place my finger on, or put a name to, something that was so potent within me, so very present? How many times do I write because I am changing and cannot see it right in front of me, but can only feel it somewhere in the periphery? How many times has writing given strength to memories I didn’t think were strong at all?

I have no idea how writing to remember who you are will help you during a tough job search, or how those things are even related, but writing does help me to preserve memories and discover parts of myself that I don’t readily come into contact with. It allows me to express things that I can’t say out loud, that I can’t say directly to anyone, including myself. It allows me to speak to people and situations that I don’t know exist. It helps me to create pictures in my mind, which is a wonderful compensation for my lack of artistic skill with such things as pencils and paintbrushes. Writing is my music and my art, my dance floor and my canvas.

Epiphanies at Twenty: I Live Mostly in Retrospect

These days I’ve been finding myself, at the end of day, going over every detail – as much as possible – of something I enjoyed in the hours before. Actually it doesn’t have to be something I enjoyed, it just has to be something that impacted me strongly in some way. This therefore includes being hurt or offended by someone.

I don’t know exactly why I do this. For the good times, I’m trying to remember them, and keep that good feeling with me for as long as I can. For the negative times however, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t like being offended of course, nor do I like being on the receiving end of negative or harsh words, but I find myself going over these things in my mind, even long after they have occurred.

The first time I went roller skating. I relived the night when I got home. I did the same thing the first time I went ice skating. Last week I had my first real kiss, so of course I’ve been reliving that. The last time my father made me cry, I relived that too. I danced with a guy for the first time yesterday and I definitely have been replaying that in my head. I also find myself thinking a lot about myself when I was younger in Jamaica.

It’s my habit to do this sort of thing at night before I go to bed. I don’t review the day, just something good, or that I want to think about. I do it to make myself fall asleep – not that it works. Sometimes too, I go over things that have just happened. I just recently realized that I really do this a lot. If I’m not imagining some future occurrence, I’m thinking about something that happened before. Again, I’m not sure why I do this, it’s just something I noticed.


The Country of My Youth

It’s quiet,
and I can hear
but familiar sounds;
night creatures,
like the ones in the bush
of the country of my youth.
Not the country with a flag,
or a national anthem,
but the country with no streetlights.
The country with no taxis,
the country with no road signs.
The country with only one school,
or maybe it has none at all.
The country where everyone knows everyone, and almost
everyone is related.
It’s quiet,
and I can hear
but familiar sounds,
like the ones in the bush
of the country
of my youth.

My Mother’s Yellow Lap

Her shirt is yellow. It’s the long one with the sleeves cut off. I think she said it belonged to her brother. She’s really short so she wears it like a dress. She’s sitting on my bed. The sheets are plaid, green. I don’t know why, not exactly why, but I lie down and rest my head on her lap. I turn my face towards her belly. It’s comfortable, and I cry there. I place my right arm around her and hold her. I know she’ll try to move me so she can look at my face. I don’t want her to. I hold her tightly.

She calls my name. She’s worried. I can hear it in her voice. My face is all wet now. My body is jerking. I’m not hiding the fact that I’m crying anymore. Doesn’t make any sense. She already knows. She keeps calling my name, trying to move me away from her, trying to look at me. She’s asking me what’s wrong. She’s really worried. What’s wrong with her baby? I just hold her. I don’t want to move. I just want to stay there and cry in my mother’s lap. She just wants to know what’s wrong.

I don’t say anything, but in my head I tell her to let me be. Just let me cry on you. Don’t ask me anything. I’m not even sure myself. Right now I need to cry, and I want to do it here. This is comfortable. Don’t worry too much. Just let me cry.

Finally I give up, because she won’t. She won’t stop calling me and trying to look at my face. She won’t stop asking me what’s wrong. She won’t stop worrying. I give up. I let her go. She’s always been strong. I can’t hold on to her any longer because she keeps pulling me. I let go, and I get up. I wipe my face. She’s still worried. She asks what’s wrong. She calls my name. I shake my head. It’s nothing. She asks what’s wrong. I shake my head again. We keep doing that. She asks what’s wrong. I shake my head. I don’t remember what I said to her to make her stop. I get up, and I go to the bathroom. I rinse my face.

The above is a memory from high school. I’d like to go back there. To that bed. To that house. To that country. To that woman. To her lap. To her arms. If I could, I’d go back, or not back, but there. I’d go there, but without the crying this time.


I remember how I cried as a child,
How we all cried,
And I laugh.

Walking around with our arms bent,
Our heads resting in the crooks of our elbows,
Belting out cow sounds,
Our mouths twisted
Into the most ridiculous shapes,
Thinking that our faces were hidden.

Our arms, already moist from sweat
Would become the most slippery things
After being washed by our tears,
And our faces would be the same.
A trip to the pipes took care of that.

And by the end of the day
Who would remember
What they were crying for anyway?

I remember the way I cried as a child,
And I laugh.

Easy Skanking

I was called an old soul.
The grandmother
Who knew all the things
From long ago.

I laughed.
I did find it quite funny.
This is the music
My father played
I told them.

That’s what it was.
I smiled.
Yes, that’s what it was.

They let me be after that.
They understood now
Why I got so excited
When Marvin Gaye came on.
When Dennis Brown
Blared through the speakers.
When it was I-Wayne,
Beres Hammond,
Jimmy Cliff,
Cocoa Tea,
Garnett Silk.

Old reggae,
Roots reggae,
Slow reggae.

Soft music
That spoke
To hearts,
Smooth music
That spoke
To mine.