I found this message saved in my files and was unsure why I’d saved a work email I sent in 2016, when I was a writer for my college’s yearbook. Then I read it and remembered.

Dearest Editor,

As I think about the memoir divider, a lot of different, random, and poetic images come to my mind. However, rather than composing a poem of my own, I’ll just ‘burp,’ if you will, all of my thoughts, producing a symphony of toads from which you may pull those that strike a chord with you, kiss them that they may turn into princes, and escort them onto the pages of the yearbook.

I think of a desert thunderstorm. Or a prairie. As the weather blows in from the West, the crops seem to brace themselves. The sand rises up into a dance that does not leave the land looking the same as before the storm. As winds pass over these miles and miles of sand, the land changes. to visit it one summer, and then the next would lead you to seeing two different locations. Just as the wind takes the sand and rearranges it, memories change. You would know that you are in the same place as the previous summer, but small changes will have taken place. The sand is different. The weeds and plants are different. The dead tree on the horizon has undergone four more seasons of rot and decay. You may not even realize all the detailed changes that the land has undergone, because the same thing has happened to your memory. The details have blurred, faded, and even changed. Thus, in your recounting of the desert, you may skew and distort the small details, though the plateau in the distance remains safely in tact.

Memoirs are a glossy recollection of a landscape from a faraway time.

The details are faded, but the core; the heart of the location remains the same.

Look back on that desert from ten years. Fifteen years. How much has the land changed? What is still true of that land after fifteen years? It is these things that make it into the memoir. I have stories from three or four years ago that have simply changed from repeated tellings. I’m sure I don’t even remember the actual story because of how many different ways I have told it. (i.e., my roommate burning our apartment building down, living in the same neighborhood as Arnold Schwarzenegger with an ancient French lady, riding elephants through the jungle in Thailand, or preaching on national television to the subcontinent of India.)

And what causes these changes? Wind on the desert. Thunderstorms on the flatlands. Rain on the prairie. We are workers of the land, and from it spring produce. From the farms of our minds we harvest memories. Often, they are cultivated to look or sound a certain way, and when captured into a memoir piece, the crop looks different than the seed.

That’s all I got. Hope it helps. Hope you may reap a bountiful harvest from the seeds / have scattered.


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Read 400+ posts of mine at ethanrenoe.com!

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