A challenge for our group, before our last meeting on the "Combray" chapter:
Take ten minutes -- time yourself -- and free associate your Proustian memories from childhood. (Don't worry if what comes up doesn't involve hawthorns and apple-trees. Just write down your sensual memories as they occur to you.)
Ready? Here are mine...
Berkeley in the early 70s
The dark smell of the redwood hot tub, mixed with chlorine.
The shaggy Bolivan rug my parents had in the living room.
Dust falling through the pillars of sunlight that came through the French doors.
The iron frog by the fireplace, filled with kerosene for lighting the fire.
My plastic Evil Knievel man on a motorcycle, and the peeling, folding vinyl ramp that I used to make him jump.
The smell of tortillas being made by Dad in the morning.
The long fur of my fat orange cat named Sam.
National Geographic magazines stacked on the shelf.
The purple and black knit blanket that hung on the couch.
My bunny suit body-length pajamas with the cold plastic feet bottoms.
The synthetic green oval rug in my room.
Looking out on the houses above ours, the one with the long balcony, the pink box at the top of the hill.
The teenage neighborhood kids on the street; one yelling, "SHUT UP!" and me imagining doors shutting.
My rubber band collection, useless and highly valued.
The metal inset at the back of my closet -- a secret door to another world?
The plastic jewels embeded in the tiles in our bathroom wall.
The spinning copper unit in the wall by the sink, that held the toothbrushes.
Walking home from Cragmont School on Spruce and jumping the low hedge like a hurdle.
The red berries that you can grab and throw.
The taste of American cheese on sandwiches.
My silver BMX bike, with the black handle-bars.
The smell of the cafeteria at Cragmont, the boxes of cereal.
Climbing on the roof and throwing apples.
The violets by the side of the house.
The secret tunnel through the hedge between my garden and our neighbor's.
Hong Kong between 1977 and 1981
The hillsides covered with concrete above the winding roads.
The smell of diesel fuel from buses and "lorries" (trucks)
The taste of a Big Mac.
The crowded open-air markets, smelling of rotten fruit, spices.
The laquered elevators to clean hallways.
My mother's long hair. Her red "party dress" which my dad liked best.
The importance of winning on the playground.
The songs of Kiss, Queen, Abba, Donna Summer, Billy Joel -- my first stereo.
The sound of Cantonese on the radio, interspersed with English band names ("the Bee Gees..."
Kasey Kasem's countdown.
Swimming in pools, swimming in the bays, on people's "junks" -- big, slow, wooden boats.
The little bites from jellyfish in the water.
The girls at school.
Come on... anybody else?