Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Gift from the Past

Since we had not seen each other in well over three decades, the experience of sharing coffee with my high school boyfriend this past weekend was somewhat surreal. But the biggest surprise came when he handed me a packet of long-forgotten stories and poems I had composed during our youthful romance.

The pieces would, he assured me, provide an interesting insight into my thoughts and aspirations all those years ago. Although I was stunned to learn such products of my high school persona survived, I thanked him and put them aside as we continued a delightful conversation about where life has taken us since we last saw one another.

It was with some trepidation that I later examined his gift from the past. Oddly, my first reaction was how much better my penmanship was then. (Click here to see a previous blog entry on the problems it causes today). I was amused that some of the pieces bore grades from my high school English teacher (A's of course) while others were poems written outside of class. Although I do still possess some examples of my anonymous "Mary Muckraker" columns for the high school newspaper, I thought my more creative efforts from that time period were discarded long ago.

I suppose it is not unexpected that I would view them as the writer and person I am now. It was as if I were reading the work of a stranger. For example, I cringed where the author used the same word twice in a paragraph --- something I assiduously attempt to avoid in my writing today. Then I reread the pieces in the hope of recalling what prompted me to create them, especially the free-form poems. However, given that I can't remember where I left my purse most days, you can understand why it might be impossible to recollect the impetus for verse composed when I was 17 and 18. On the third read-through, I could feel the angst and emotions of those teenage years that I often struggled to make sense of with my pen. Then I wondered when I stopped writing poetry and why.

As I study these papers now, I feel fortunate that my high school boyfriend kept my writing for sentimental reasons -- and not for blackmail or in the hope that he would be able to profit from it when I became rich and famous (obviously he's given up on that hope, if it ever existed).

And I will remain forever grateful that he has now returned these pieces of me.

Have you ever unexpectedly discovered something you wrote long ago, or something else you kept from your past? Did it bring back wonderful memories or did you struggle to try to recall why you kept it?

For your reading pleasure, here's a poem entitled "Oceans and Roses' that earned me an A. (And no, I don't remember the reason for the reference to the yellow rose, but it was obviously important at the time. I wonder what a high school English class would interpret this poem to mean today...)

I love.
They're blue
and gray
and green.
Chameleon color change
Ever-changing --
(like me).
Sparkling water
Reflections of the world
Except me...
It sees me
But, does not reveal --
It's better
That way,
Maybe --
The key was
A yellow rose.
I wonder --
For if a token
Isn't genuine,
It becomes
A feeble attempt --
You'll give
What I like.
Almost everything ...
But, all the while
I seek
Roses wilt
And die...
Oceans rise
And fall...
Leaving me
Washed up
Upon the beach
Of dreams.


ALittleGuitar said...

Since I'm so much younger than you, my 40th high school reunion isn't until next year. I hope it's half as interesting and thought-provoking as yours seems to have been.

A while back I was cringing after coming across a couple of things I wrote in our high school literary magazine. One was a poem likening a lion to a kitten. Man, that's deep. Deeeeeeeep!

Pat Remick said...

Maybe you'll be lucky and the men, aka you, will look better than the women because you're no longer in that Texas air or something. I want to see that poem -- come on, I shared mine!

Kaye George said...

I wish I had some of my old stuff! I have some from college, but nothing older than that. I like the poem!

PatRemick said...

Thanks Kaye. It truly was a wonderful surprise to see these again.

MaxWriter said...

Great poem, Pat. I do have some scribblings from high school (I was also on the high-school paper staff and wrote a bit for the town paper), and even some writings from grade-school days somewhere in the attic. What I like is seeing the continuity of our nature as writers. I think you and I share that with a lot of other mystery writers, who have been writers of one kind or another since childhood.