Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Map

Blow up to enlarge (I hope) if you want to see the whole story!
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This is the first 12 years of my life. Actually 13 but that last year was actually the beginning of the next chapter. In this six block area, I spent 99% of my days.
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I made this map today because I am taking a three Saturday workshop on how to write a memoir (versus a personal essay versus an autobiography. Want to know the difference? Maybe I will write about it. )
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This is an awesome workshop: seven women, all wanting to or have begun writing "memoirs." I don't know what I will do, but it was pretty insightful to draw this map. It's my neighborhood. The house that has an 'X' on it is the house my father and his father built together, along with my Uncle Sammy, my father's construction partner and half brother.
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I lived first and foremost on "the lane". Jeannie and Janice lived across the street and we played with our Ginny dolls on their front stoop for several years. Their stepmother was a wicked witch.
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I look at this map and I am struck by the simple pleasures of my childhood: 35 cents every day of summer to buy ice cream in a cup; walking by myself to LaRosa's to buy milk for my mother; sitting in my favorite corner seat of the playground making potholders--I probably made 50 potholders one summer.
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And I see some hints at understanding the little girl who ran away and hid in the garage and waited for her mother to come and find her (she didn't); the kid who watched in disbelief when the ice cream truck backed up and ran over her bike; the not-yet-teen who joined her 12 or so 7th grade friends of boys and girls learning and practicing how to kiss eachother.
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This was a look back. It seems I haven't really done that before, at least not as a bona-fide map, and I'm pondering what I know now. It's going to fit in somewhere, I know that.

24 comments:

  1. That's an interesting way to start. The first meme I ever did on my blog was one about five stories from five places I'd lived - it really made me lok at my early years diffferently.

    (word verification: abless)

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  2. it is a very interesting way to start - I like it.

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  4. Sounds like a fabulous workshop kj. I laughed when I read the 'ran away from home' memory. I did the same when I was about 12 and no one came to find me either! Such a let down.

    I've just given you a blogging award for being such an awesome blogger...drop by my blog and join the celebration!

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  5. I just realized I had this up on my screen the whole time we were on the phone! Looks like you got an award while we were gabbing:)

    You make me want to do a map.
    My daily treat wasn't ice cream it was a Devil Dog! I think only Massachusetts people know about them. They were a nickel. We were too poor for my folks to give me a nickel every day so I used to jump rope for the old men at the American Legion Hall on the other side of the alley we lived on in Boston. I used to dazzle them for at least fifty cents a day!! Man, I could jump some mean rope.

    Did you make the kind of potholders with that little loom thingy? Yikes, I remember those! And gimp was big back then too. Remember gimp?

    I'd love to take this class with you. My probabtion officer (from my childhood) thinks I should write my memoirs. She was to me what you are to so many of the lost children you counsel.
    I can't wait to see her again when I move back.

    I love this KJ. Thanks for sharing even more of yourself with us ;)

    xoxo

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  6. i just know yours won't be a boring memoir.i hate boring!

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  7. The map is an interesting idea...I was more of a free range beast at that age mostly running through the intractable wasteland before it became the unrecognizable wasteland it is today.

    Yes please define a memoir for me.

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  8. cs, i was amazed to see this map fill in.

    mim, i liked it too.

    kate, did you get further than the garage? i had to walk back into the house deflated and defeated!
    thanks so much for the award. that is so sweet. it seems i'm in good company. oh and kate--bali? tell me more... xo

    lo, i would love to see your map? will you? can you? you make me laugh. i graduated to devil dogs in junior high. i used to eat a box of 12. i would lick the sides for the white filling first. even today i still love them.

    you can write girl. don't kid yourself.... xoxo

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  9. soulbrush, you hate boring? hahaha! i never would have guessed! hahaha!

    walking man, would you tell me more about this wasteland? if you will i will tell you what a memoir is and isn't... :)

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  10. I'm going to do one of those! Tomorrow though, as it's just about 1.30 in the morning right now and I need to get some sleep. That way at least I can draw a half-decent map ... Thanks KJ.

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  11. How to eat a Devil Dog:
    Just like you, I'd lick the cream from the sides first, then I'd slide the two cakes in opposite directions and eat each exposed end until the cake was even again. Then I'd repeat those steps until the last bite was a tiny piece of 'cake on cake' with a smidge of whipped cream left.

    Once when I was out here I had my sister send me a box of them. They were awful! I think things just got too commercial, they ended up being partially hydrogenated bombs and the cake was of poor quality. And forget that delicious soft cream in the middle.I don't what what the new stuff was made of.

    Thank goodness it's still a wonderful memory though, especially because I 'earned them' with my amazing rope skills ;)

    If I jumped rope today, the earth would move!

    xo

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  12. Wow, this brought back memories for me too. I once ran away, but I just made it to the back porch, it is no wonder no one was worried :-).

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  13. kj this is totally outstanding. I love it. I love the map and I love the idea.

    I like hearing it all. The walk for milk, the bike, the kiss. Such fun.

    xoxoxo

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  14. what a great way to look back... all those details in the map were really amazing...

    and when we look back in this way, it's so healing...

    you are walking on a path of gold...

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  15. kay, if you do it, will you post it? it would be so interesting to see your 'story'...

    lo, i ate my devil dogs in exactly that way too, except you forgot to mention that there was always one side with scant cream on it. i wanted both sides to have it..

    i've got to hand it to you, lo: that would be an interesting way for the earth to move (wink wink)

    annie, the back porch...i'll bet the garage was easier to hide in...not that it mattered!

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  16. kj the group you describes sounds wonderful. Count me in.

    I insist that Laurel has to be part of it too so I will have my raven and moon sisters with me.

    I also have to say I will be shouting 'I need a cup of tea' and someone besides myself will have to get it.

    Love Renee xoxo

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  17. sounds like a wonderful workshops. this map is a great way to stimulate memories. i've made life maps at times too, all in a notebook packed away. be well, suki

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  18. oh renee, wouldn't that be wonderful? of course laurel or i would get you tea! we would even drive you to and from, fluff up your pillows, hold your hand, brush your hair. we would love to sit with you and write and share...
    xoxo

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  19. suki, this was the first time i ever drew a map of my childhood and i have to say it's stirred up some deep emotions. i can feel it all so vividly... how are you, suki? xo

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  20. When I ran away from home I went miles into the bushland near our house. I was gone for hours but no one seemed to care!

    Bali is a waiting game at the moment. We still need to see if we get the numbers but there's also another spanner in the works and that is that Chris may have a feature film to work on which means he'll be crazy busy so it might be hard for me to get away. Meg, our youngest, is in her last year of school so we want to make sure one of us is here to support her.

    How funny about 'gobsmacked'! Isn't that one of the fun things about blogging? We get to hear those quirky sayings from different parts of the world. No doubt you gather what it means!

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  21. hb, thank you for noticing all those details. re: a path of gold, i wish you were walking along with me. we would talk non-stop, wouldn't we? xoxo

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  22. I love maps... and yours is a wonder and delight to travel my eyes around.

    I'm mapping in my head my childhood neighborhood. Mostly good memories.

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  23. thank you chewy. i hope you draw your map. you won't regret it, although it might make you cry...
    xoxo

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