One of the exercises in my memoir writing course challenges participants to write a story using only three word sentences. There is no expectation to be grammatically correct; rather it is in an exercise in parsimony, being able to communicate your message without elaborate sentences. The exercise is part of a chapter on what to leave out, lessons on selectiveness.
I combined my story with an exercise from an earlier chapter suggesting writing about a blurry picture from our photograph collection, the ones from the pre-digital days which we hung onto because they were the only evidence of the event. I relished the three word challenge and wrote this story. Hope you enjoy it.
Our First Place
Married first October. Purposely small gathering. Wrote own vows. For non-denominational wedding. Catholic ruled out. Not everyone agreed. Not everyone sure. But we were.
Honeymooned in Quebec. City more specific. Drove the distance. Stopped in Renfrew. Enjoyed each other. Stopped in Ottawa. Marriage was blessed. Priest a friend. Provided welcome acceptance. Union was complete.
Only one week. Back to school. Back to work. Back home together.
Olga finishing undergrad. My graduate ambitions. Put on hold. I need employment. For the money. Not my career.
Work pays rent. Cute little apartment. East of Adelaide. Three storey building. Overlooking parking lot. Price was right. Groceries are close. Ice cream nearby. University walking distance.
Our first place. Our first memories.
Sun engulfs rooms. For morning coffees. Reading the paper. And some books. For her homework. For my pleasure. Embraced small things. Walk the neighbourhood. Saturday church choir. Evenings at home. With some wine. Maybe some TV. An occasional guest. But mostly us. Alone in bliss. In all ways.
Inherited a cat. Not my choice. Part of deal. Had dogs before. Stepped on feline. Middle of night. Middle of hallway. The next day. Paw got caught. Closing the drawer. Another painful meow! Two strikes down. Only one day. Cats have ways. Some new adjustments. Need to learn.
For first Christmas. Tree was small. Stand was crude. Home made decorations. Except the lights. Teddy bear cookies. Shellac, hooks, string. Bright red ribbons. Strings of popcorn. Hung with care. Didn’t need much. Hosted cookie night. Brothers came over. Parents came over. Everyone took part. Making the dough. Gingerbread boys abound. Drink was aplenty. Merriment all around.
Enrolled one course. Introductory French class. On Tuesday night. Could go together. Continue to learn. Not lose touch. Spring was busy. Sixty hour weeks. Could not study. For one month. Assignments were late. Tests were poor. Last one disaster. Thought I failed. For first time. Professor showed mercy. The only explanation. For the C.
Olga’s last exam. How to recognize? Brought the wineskin. Brought the glasses. Poured in courtyard. Outside examination hall. Imagined ourselves rebellious. Toasted an accomplishment. Meant to surprise. And it did. A simple celebration. Still fondly remembered. In our minds. One blurry photo. Only us aware. Of the content. Of the scene. Of the story.
Graduate school offers. Decided on Toronto. Packing up belongings. Friends helped us. With pullout couch. Unfolded in stairwell. Damn @#&%in’ thing. Boxes, beds, chairs. Three flights down. Three flights up. Repeat after me. Into rented truck. Never drove standard. But no choice. Gotta learn somehow.
Said our goodbyes. Will always remember. Our first place. Our first days.