Monday, April 25, 2011

on memory

A few years ago, I wrote my Dad on the Monday after an Easter with my mom's family.  I wrote him that my cousins and I had taken a drive to our grandparent's old house, told him how we had we had parked at the public beach on nassau point and walked down the shoreline to the steps that led up it, how we had sat on those steps in the shadow of the bluffs and talked for over an hour about missing the place, missing our grandfather.  I wrote him that even in the dark on that beach, there was so much memory there, such loss, and I wondered how I could write it all down, why the words weren't coming to me. 

His e-mail reply (yes, I save some things like this): What's Wordsworth's definition of poetry?  Something like strong emotion remembered in tranquility.  Meaning that you need time to process (as we'd say today) the experience, to explore the implications of the feelings, to uncover the meanings.  It might take years. Decades.  But you hold on to the memory of the moment.

beach at nassau point
And that's how I feel about this past Easter weekend.  As I sat with my now grown cousins on Saturday night and we dyed eggs, even though no one was going to be hiding or looking for them the next day, I was wrapped up in such a feeling of memory, tradition.  Yesterday morning, setting the table with my aunts and grandmother, we moved about the dining room in a sort of dance.  Each on a side of the tablecloth, simultaneously lifting the fabric up and then bringing it down, smoothing it out.  Wordlessly eying each other, how much do you have on your side, I need more on this side.  The movements we have been doing together for years bring comfort, but I'm still not sure how to write that down.  How to explain what a memory feels like when you are living it.  So this post will have to do for now.

north fork, Easter weekend last year

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