In the spring I dabbled in different genres, including fiction and memoir. Write On Edge sends weekly memoir-writing prompts, called RemembeRED, and this particular week’s prompt was to think of a sound or a smell that reminds you of something from your past and write a post about that memory. Can you guess which smell inspired this post?
White fifteen-passenger vans lined the lot. The desert sun hadn’t yet stretched its hot arms over the mountains, leaving elusive dew drops glistening on the rocks and spiny leaves of the low-lying trees. A haphazard rainbow of suitcases, sleeping bags, and duffel bags tumbled behind each van like vomit.
Rumpled twelve and thirteen-year-olds bounced between vans, the only morning all summer they’d be so energetic so early. Adults with sweatshirts tied ’round their waists waded through the hysteria bearing clipboards and steaming cups of coffee like life vests.
At home I’d gulped down Cheerios at my mom’s insistence, but my stomach agitated like a washing machine from nerves as I climbed out of our ancient Corolla. My dad and I grabbed my contributions to the vomit rainbow – a green sleeping bag, blue plaid suitcase, and blue backpack – and approached a clipboard-wielding adult.
“What’s your name? Joy…. Ahh, here you are. Permission slip is signed… you’re riding in van #22. Throw your stuff behind it, except what you want to keep with you.” She crossed my name off and moved to the bedraggled duo behind us.
My dad walked me over to the 22nd van in the line-up, threw my gear on the pile, then turned to look at me, hesitant about how to say goodbye with all my friends (especially the boys) around. I threw my arms around him, squeezed tight. “See you in a week, dad.”
“Have a great time at camp, honey” he replied, then hurried back to his car. I thought maybe he didn’t want me to see his face.
I hopped over to my gaggle of girlfriends, squealing and scoping out which vans held the cutest boys. Eventually the adults began herding everyone into vans. Somehow glass and metal had to contain our hysterical energy for the ten-hour drive across the desert and into the mountains.
“So, like, what did you bring to eat?” Tiffany demanded, as we bickered over bench seats.
“I’ve got the biggest bag of Smarties I could find,” Kim pulled her contribution out of her bag and tossed it into the middle.
“I’ve got Reeses!”
I dug into my backpack. “Jolly Ranchers for me!”
“Ohmigosh, I like totally LOVE those things,” Carolyn squealed. “Do you have watermelon?”
I fished around and tossed her two fragrant red candies. “Anyone else?”
Kim asked, “What do you like best, Joy? You brought ’em.”
“I like ’em all, but prob’ly watermelon or apple. Don’t you think it’s like so weird that they don’t really taste like fruit?”
I popped one in my mouth as our caravan pulled out of the parking lot. Squeezing my words around the sticky goodness, I wondered aloud, “Do you think Todd would notice me if you french-braid my hair?”
Have you ever tried writing memoir? Have any tips or suggestions for me after reading this?