93 Lewis St, the second track on Dreams & Ghosts, invites you to consider what places loom large in your family stories. For those interested in actively recording their reflections on these questions, I like to offer a variety of writing exercises to accompany these invitations.
- On a blank piece of paper (or with a voice recorder), try to remember all of the addresses at which you have lived in your life, starting with where you were born and working forward to where you live now. It doesn’t have to be a complete address, just whatever you remember. Post office boxes count, too. Extra points if you can remember the home phone number attached to the address.
- When you’ve finished, take a moment to review the list. How did you do? Which residences had you almost forgotten? Which residences stand out more in your memory than the rest?
- Start a new page / voice memo. Start with the first address. Do you have any memories of it? If not, what do you remember others in your family mentioning about it? Go for as much detail as you can gather: its physical appearance (throughout the seasons), the people who lived there, any and all events that took place there (in your life or someone else’s that you know about). If you get stuck, close your eyes and visualize the location as best you can.
- See how far down through the list you can work, jotting down detailed notes about each location. This will likely not be possible in one sitting, but can be a good place to start any time you want to work on your recollections.
What have you discovered? What surprised you? What are the places that endure in your memory and in your family stories? What are the gaps that might be able to be filled by others who remember these places?
If you like, I welcome you to share your story, and let me know how you experienced this exercise. You may also be interested in looking at other writing exercises on this blog.