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  • Writer's pictureMoss Kaplan

I Remember

On May 25th 1994, artist and writer, Joe Brainard, died during another pandemic, passing away at age fifty-two from AIDS-induced pneumonia. In 1970, he wrote an astonishing memoir where each sentence begins with the phrase, "I

remember . . ." The novelist Paul Auster described the book: "In simple, forthright, declarative sentences, he charts the map of the human soul and permanently alters the way we look at the world. I Remember is both uproariously funny and deeply moving. It is also one of the few totally original books I have ever read.”

A few excerpts:

I remember the only time I saw my mother cry. I was eating apricot pie.

I remember how good a glass of water can taste after a dish of ice cream.

I remember when I decided to be a minister. I don’t remember when I decided not to be.

I remember a backdrop of a brick wall I painted for a play. I painted each red brick in by hand. Afterwards it occurred to me that I could have just painted the whole thing red and put in the white lines.

I remember one very hot summer day I put ice cubes in my aquarium and all the fish died.

Lately, because the world seems so different, I have been noticing a lot of my own I Remembers popping up in my brain—not from my childhood, which was mostly Brainard's focus, but from life as it was a few short/long months ago.

I remember watching TV shows and not thinking everyone is standing too close together.

I remember thinking the world was too busy and what would it be like if everyone slowed down.

I remember high-fives and hugs from my students.

I remember not being annoyed by phrases like troubling times, uncertain times, challenging times, frustrating times, confusing times, and difficult times.

I remember wishing we had more family time.

I remember having lunch out with a friend.

I remember wishing our current President would hurry up and drop dead instead of now wishing he would hurry up and drop dead of COVID-19.

I remember when President Obama was President and everything seemed so fine with the world that I didn't even feel the need to pay attention.

I remember going to the grocery store on a whim because I needed a couple limes and an avocado.

I remember when I had plans.

I remember wondering where all the time went.

I remember just wanting to stay home all the time.

I remember never fretting about download/upload speeds.

I remember sunshine feeling so good and cleansing and it still does.

I remember seeing strangers faces and never really imagining how lonely it feels to only see their eyes.

I remember never really thinking about how it would feel to live in a country where you had to wear a burka, and now I think about it all the time.

I remember thinking maybe the world owed me a few things and not really realizing I was picturing only good things.

I remember always having to come up with excuses to get out of things or not go to things. I remember I was really good at it and now it just seems like a wasted skill.

I remember the last time gasoline was $1.50 a gallon. Apparently it was twenty years ago.

I remember feeling really down sometimes or anxious or unproductive and not having a good excuse, and now there is always a good excuse to feel lousy.

I remember washing my hands when I happened to notice they were really dirty.

Feel free to write a few of your own in the comments section . . .

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