Friday, September 21, 2012

Remember what apples smell like?

This week I heard an interview with one of my former professors (and Tony-Award winning director) Mary Zimmerman, who was talking with Steve Edwards about remounting The Metamorphoses at the Lookingglass Theatre this fall. I remember Mary fondly: I was always astonished that she always wore skirts to class, even in the winter time, which seemed inconceivable to me because the winter was So Cold. I liked listening to her talk about art, and I liked making art in her class. I liked listening to her and Steve Edwards have so much fun with each other, and I liked the line she offered from Ovid, a kind of grounding in the natural world, when so much around us feels far from the seasons, the planets, the dirt and the bugs.

Every now and then I pick up this book and read some of it to students or friends as a way to stoke the writing. Coupled the assignment I gave one of my classes this week, with Zimmerman and remmebering the apples, I thought I would do this again.

I remember the burgundy jars of perfumed cream my mother would buy from her church lady friends, who also sold Avon.
I remember thinking Campbell's canned tomato soup was gross.
I remember Cap'n Crunch.
I remember Garbage Pail Kids.
I remember jellies.
I remember Chinese jump rope.
I remember the one year (third grade) I learned how to double dutch. It was maybe the first time I felt like a black girl.
I remember when I cut off my perm and wore my natural hair short. It was among the first times I felt like a black woman.
I remember the tremor in my husband's voice when he made his vow during our wedding.
I remember the last time a man asked me to marry him.
I remember the first time a man asked me to marry him. I didn't think he was serious, but he thought he was.
I remember the first time a boy touched me sexually and I didn't want him to (also third grade). We were both in trouble for something, and sitting in the time out chairs near the teacher. He reached across me, shoved his hands between my thighs and said, "Nice la-gitis!" and laughed. I pushed his hand away and told him, "It's Va-GI-NA, not la-gitis." Somehow, his mispronunciation of the word was a bigger deal to me than the fact that he'd just touched my privates. We were probably in trouble for talking about privates in the first place.
I remember hyperventilating after I came out of the anesthesia after having my wisdom teeth out.
I remember my first rock concert.
I remember my first cigarette.
I remember how often my mother had to tell me to stand still, and not to dance to the music they piped into the supermarket sound system. I still can't do it, but I don't have to stand still anymore.
I remember learning about the civil rights movement.
I remember being the first black family on my street.
I remember when the next door neighbors egged our house.
I remember my first car accident.
I remember my cousin. I don't know where she is anymore.
I remember how beautiful I thought my mother was.
I remember how tired I got of other people telling me how beautiful my mother was.
I remember my father's absence.
I remember wishing for a brother.
I remember wishing for a dog.
I remember the smell of my clarinet's mouthpiece.
I remember how much I loved to play the clarinet.
I remember how large the football field seemed when you were standing on the goal line waiting to march onto it.


Unknown said...

I heard that interview, too, Jess. It was really good. Jana and I actually saw that play in NY in (if I remember) late 2001 or early 2002. I love these memories. I didn't know you play clarinet. When will you sit in with us?

Jessica Young said...

Oh, I haven't played in literally decades! I have such a fondness for that reedy, warm sound, but all I could do now is squeak. Hoping to see the remount this season.