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  • I remember grilled octopus, garlic and tomatoes melting in my mouth at a beach grill shack the last day of a holiday in Spain. My friend said "you look like you are going to cry." I said "no, I am just concentrating, making sure I remember."

    I remember the first time I saw the most perfect, velvety red rose growing on the vine at age two or three. Our nasty shrew of a landlady shouted at me to not touch it. It was the first time I knew what "insulted" felt like.

    I remember driving in the car with my dad in his Buick convertible as a little girl, around 4 years old. I was standing in the center of the front seat with his arm around me. His cigarette accidentally burned me, and his friend Dick, who was with us, recommended that we put butter on it. Of course this is an asinine, even harmful, thing to do. It wasn't mean spirited though - Dick was always laughing, frequently drunk and looked like Frank Sinatra. My dad's other close friend, Buzzy, reminded me of James Dean but with smilier eyes. In the 70s and 80s all of those Chicago guys my dad and Uncle Lou knew still thought it was the 1950s and they were players baby, players. Bookies, booze and broads, with their nice wives at home. A generation of mascara streaked nice girls who married bad boys, crying on the phone to one another. To this day I cannot bear to listen to Frank Sinatra. His Way pretty much sucked for the rest of us.

    I remember the day my beloved younger Uncle, Jim, left for college (see photo.) I was heartbroken that he was leaving and did not want to pose for the picture. It was the first time I remember feeling forlorn. I went to his highschool football games and knew all the cheers by heart. He went to Texas to school, and brought me home a brown, suede cowgirl outfit. It was my favorite possession for a long, long time and I still wish I had it. I think my love for Patsy Cline and cowboy boots must somehow connect back to this...

    I remember spending a New Year's Eve with my grandmother at her house while my parents went out. We watched Dick Clark on TV - the gigantic sparkly ball dropping at midnight in Times Square. We made paper hats out of newspaper, shook rattly metal noise makers and ate popcorn. She was so much fun that night, and it stands out as one of the only times I remember my grandmother being genuinely playful.

    I remember fainting in church during Stations of the Cross one year in elementary school. I thought this meant that I was either very, very bad or being called to do something very, very big...and I did not really like either of these options.

    I also remember lying in confession around the same time, just to see if the priest would know. I figured if he knew, if he was psychic, then this whole game really did have merit. He didn't of course, and sent me off to say 10 Hail Marys. I quit after saying 5 and decided I was making up the rules from now on.

    I remember carefully dusting the bookshelves in my bedroom on weekends, rearranging all of my collections - shells, small boxes and tiny fans. I have always had collections, and am still always rearranging them.

    I remember my first day of all girls highschool at Regina Dominican, sitting alone in the auditorium for the opening welcome from the principal. Scanning the seats, I realized that I got the outfit right (kelly green Dickie's pants and pink Ralph Lauren polo shirt, navy belt with little whales on it) but the hair ribbon wrong (yarn, not grosgrain.) Damn. That was a recurring theme for me there.

    I remember doing cartwheels down the middle of a street in Kansas and singing out loud, alone, at 2am. I was in college, walking home from a bar. I figured no one would mess with a girl that seemed crazy. I employed this tactic several times during those years and still think it was a good strategy. (I do cartwheels in the grass each spring, just to make sure I still can, if I need to...)

    I remember being in a London bookstore and hearing my mother's voice clearly calling my name. I phoned her in Chicago at the end of the day saying "what's wrong?!" and she told me she'd had a growth removed from her face that day, was worried about it and had been wanting to talk to me - how did I know? That was the first of the premonitions or moments of inexplicable knowing that now I shrug at, taking for granted. I would be devastated if they stopped though.

    I remember falling instantly, madly in love with the look in someone's eyes, in the middle of a conversation, the first day I met him. In that moment he was all passion and enthusiasm and unbridled energy - completely electric! I never saw it again in him though (despite looking and looking for it) so I am now convinced that I was just really, really drunk.

    I remember walking down the aisle on my wedding day looking at my soon-to-be husband, thinking "this is the rightest thing I've ever done." Not an ounce of worry or doubt - the surest moment of my life. I thought that everyone must feel this way on their wedding day and was shocked to find out over time that it is not necessarily so.

    I remember my oldest son being born and me saying "yeah! I want to do this again!" (I have the video to prove it...) The most insane, adrenaline rushed happiness.

    I remember the 20 minutes in which I wasn't sure how badly injured my husband was and whether or not my youngest son (then 2 years old) had survived an accident. I was shaking uncontrollably, rocking back and forth, teeth chattering, standing outside our house in 90 degree heat, waiting for the firemen to bring them out of the wreckage. I was not praying to a god per se or making deals with the devil but was thinking "I promise to be forever grateful and to remember what's important after getting through this, whatever this turns out to be."

    The last one was, by far, the most significant memory. The one I should write about but can't. Maybe one day.
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