On Sunday of this week, in the writing group Leap of Words that I co-founded, we started The Daily Writing Challenge and so for the next six weeks I’ll be sharing some of the work I create during the challenge! I’m so excited to embark on this journey, both as a teacher and a student. Even though I’m one of the leaders in the group, I’m taking this opportunity to grow my own skills as a writer, as well as a teacher. Our group has such a wide range of talent, and each person has something amazing to offer. So if you’re interested in writing, please, please join us! The group is private, this way no one has to worry about people on their friend’s list seeing everything, so you’ll need to request to join.
You can request to join the group here: Leap of Words – Community of Writers
Today, the prompt for our challenge was to write a personal essay in the style of Joe Brainard’s “I Remember”. Brainard wrote a memoir where each paragraph started with the phrase “I remember…” which is a wonderful technique for helping you to follow memories and even bring inspiration for later stories. For me, I like to use this technique as a freestyle exercise, where I don’t go back and edit as I write. Editing while writing is a habit I’m trying tirelessly to break. So here is my (unedited) essay, and if you’re part of the challenge or thinking of joining, I can’t wait to see what you’ve created!
They Wanted to Be in the Ocean
An “I Remember” Essay by C.S. Rausch
I remember standing in line and watching as the other children walked past us. Each was carrying a small plastic bag and inside floated the golden treasure. All the faces mirrored my own excitement, as the anticipation grew with each step closer.
I remember my brother crying. His face puffy and red, I watched him scramble to get away. He didn’t understand, not yet, how important this moment was.
I remember counting down the pristine white tiles that lead to the front. My mom made us stay close. It was crowded and we weren’t the only ones anxious to be there. Different treasures drew in different people. But I couldn’t understand how someone would want anything else, but this one gift.
I remember gazing through the all the stunning blue tanks. Bright colors darting around, catching my glance for just a moment, before another would swim by. The closer we got to the front, the bigger the tanks seem to become.
I remember finally reaching the front. A tired woman in a blue shirt and khakis hands me my plastic bag. She says a few things to my mom, but I don’t hear. I’m staring at the golden treasure. Three little specks of sunshine swimming. One for each of us. Brother is whimpering, but he stops crying to admire what’s in my hands.
I remember his face lighting up.
I remember the sting of possessiveness in my heart.
I remember arriving home and helping set up the glass jar they’d live in. Perfectly smooth stones filled the bottom. We sat them next to the sink. I wanted them to be near a window. Mom calls grandma to tell her how busy things were. Brother and I watch the sunshine we have glisten in the jar.
I remember all the mornings I woke up to see them. To watch these beautiful yellow dots swimming happily back and forth. Brother always wanted my help climbing up onto the counter.
I remember the sting in my heart never leaving, even as he’d point and laugh, “fishy, fishy, fishy”.
I remember the morning that he didn’t ask for my help. The morning he climbed up on all his own. When I arrived, the sunshine wasn’t swimming anymore. I call for mom. Brother tells me, “they wanted to be in the ocean”. I don’t know what he means.
I remember mom finding the salt shaker on the floor. She sighed heavily. The sting in my heart turns into something hot when I realize what he’s done. “They wanted to be in the ocean,” he repeats over and over again. He’s crying now because our treasure is no longer moving.
I remember mom taking the jar and disappearing down the hall.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was an essay on how my little brother killed the first set of goldfish we ever owned! When I sat down to write this essay, I decided on this memory because one, my little brother’s birthday is coming up and we still tease him about this, and two because I always think it’s fascinating to try and remember childhood memories as an adult. Also, I’ve been painting a lot of fish recently.
I’m looking forward to continuing to share and grow on this journey over the next six weeks! Please, please, as I said earlier, join us if you’re interested. This is such a great group and even though it’s called a “challenge”, it is more of an opportunity to explore your creative side, learn and get lots of support along the way.