I mentioned last week I’d post some of my warm up exercises, like described in Nathalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind.
The idea is writing for ten minutes solid, without re-reading or editing, starting with “I remember…” (or some such phrase) and see were our writing carries us.
Ten minutes, keep the fingers dancing (or plodding) on the keyboard.
It’s a good exercise to clean up the systems after a long day of work – and I’ll try it as a start-up exercise, too.
Anyway, here’s my first attempt.
I remember my cat Emma playing with the shadow of my hand.
She would see this strange shape on the floor of my kitchen, and start jumping around and trying to catch it. I’m told it was nothing unique – most cats do something like that.
After a few minutes chasing the shadow, she would stop suddenly, turn to me and rear on her hind legs, like a tiger in a circus, and stretch her forepaws, trying to grab my hand for real.
Again she would jump and try and try again, and this would go on for another five minutes, until I finally picked her up – she was a very small cat – and held her belly up in my lap, scratching her and combing her fur with my fingers.
My mother used to say that would be a very sweet parent, because she said she could see I was caring, and delicate, with that little creature.
I’d be a good father, my mother said.
Mothers would often say that.
I was eighteen.
So this was 1985, or 1986.
Twenty and eight years on I no longer have a cat, or a mother, and it looks extremely unlikely I’ll ever be a father, sweet or good or otherwise.
I no longer live in that house, and even the floor over which my shadow played is no longer there – for some strange reason, whenever someone gets in a new home, hereabouts, they tear up the floors and have them laid down anew.
They tear down the wallpaper, they change sinks and toilets.
It’s like their new place can’t be really their if they don’t tear away and scratch anything that was touched by the previous owners – by hand, by feet, by bare buttocks or by their eyes, even just by the shadow of their hand, it has to go.
People are a lot stranger than cats, I guess.