10 February 2010


i remember the oddest things.

like the time my grandma told me my smile was like that farrah fawcett's smile. better, even. you know i've never been one to accept compliments gracefully, but that one came only a few weeks after that whole liberace misfortune. so this little fella clung to it, thirty years and counting.

i remember one of the first madly-interminably-in-love things uncle sugar said to me the very first night we met. he said the same exact thing yesterday and he'll most likely say it again today with the same naughty look.

i remember what i said when each of the girlies three were born, and i've made sure they remember, too. you should hear esmé recount my gasp and first three words to her: you're! so! cute!

i keep pretty much every batch of good words in my back pocket, don't you? i know exactly how many times i've been told i was a great writer and that i have fantastic shoulders and a really happy smile. i've been called a free spirit exactly four times, and i never forget how this was meant as a compliment only three times. i'm still holding every begrudging nice shot from the tennis court, every random thank you, and maybe even one or two you're just perfect.

one thing, though. i have a difficult time remembering the bad. any bad. {note: to the two or three people with whom i've held nonsense grudges? this does not apply to you. i remember what you said. in sixth grade.} and i wonder if it's because i never heard any bad growing up...

i was lucky enough to live a really idyllic childhood, and it's hard for me to remember anything else. i don't remember my dad swearing or getting angry. the worst i ever heard him say was that guy can go...suck eggs. he and my brothers and sisters enjoyed the heck out of me in my memories, and my mom absolutely lived for me. my oldest brother taught me to cartwheel when he learned i was the only girl in my class who couldn't and that even mark schwinnen could. he also built me a bike and painted it sparkly blue to match my eyes. to this day, when i fill out forms, i have to stop myself from writing eye color: sparkly blue. i had it made, yes?

which brings me to last night. grae was putting a goofy hat on esmé, and esmé made her monkey face in the mirror, and grae said to me she looks like such a little weirdo! and, of course, mémé laughed and made another monkey face, which made my grae-girl giggle all the more.

but i pulled grae aside a little while later and asked her what she remembers hearing when she was a little. and she thought about it because she's a really thoughtful girl. she said well. you told me i'm the most beautiful girl. i know i'm probably one of the smartest, too. the nicest. definitely the strongest.

{totally true. i know this because she punched the muscle in her leg and didn't. even. flinch.}

anyway. i just suggested that she offer mémé the same chance to feel perfect, and i know my girl listened. because within ten minutes, esmé was hopping around the house telling anyone and no one who would listen that she's gracie's twin. and they're perfect, didn't you know?

of course i did.

houses via flickr. the very first or second time i met uncle sugar's mom, we were silent-driving though a neighborhood on the way to von maur. silence slays me, so i looked out the window and said oh, look at that house! don't you love ivy? no. she did not love ivy. and for the rest of the drive i heard about the home-owners from hell. ivy-ists. a sad lot, really. they have no idea the horrors that happen under all that green. good luck with resale, suckers. but do you know what makes me giggle so hard right now as i write this? she probably doesn't even remember this moment. anyway. all this to ask you, do you remember things like this? do you keep these words with you? do tell. i'm in the mood to chat.

and in case you were wondering, i quite like ivy. but i like uncle sugar's mom way more than that.


Shannon said...

Oh yes. I have difficulty letting go of words, they haunt me at times, the good and the bad. Some call me nostalgic, some say I am sensitive, I try to hold onto the words, repeating them over and over, hoping to relive the moment. The most powerful words came when my papa died, I listened to my mimi weep then laugh, she held his hand and said "thank you for my memories, goodbye love of my life" I remember thinking at the time don"t forget this shannon, this. is. love. find it.

Kelly said...

i still remember when i was 15 and my soccer coach told me i was tenacious. and my high school history teacher telling me i should consider journalism after reading a report i'd written. and i remember when my grandfather (who was more like a father) passed away when i was 17 and my grandmother told him to sleep well until they met again. and how just a few weeks ago that same grandmother told me she was sometimes mad at him for leaving her here. my memories are full, but i think there's only room for the good. the bad just eats holes in you.


karey m. said...

shannon and kelly. lillie just came downstairs and asked why i was crying. i wasn't. my eyes were just watery. but your words just killed me.

did i ever tell you what my sister's husband said to her just before she died? he put a love letter in her pocket and told her "you were my best friend in the whole world."

you two have good words kept with you, that's for sure. xoxo and thanks for sharing them. ugh.

Rachel said...

I remember some of the bad. Getting cut from the soccer team my senior year. Ouch. But mostly the good comes to mind. But I know all of it shaped me. Made me better. So I guess I'm ok remembering both.

Melissa de la Fuente said...

oh god....well, I don't know what to say after reading the heartbreaking words above from the three of you...I am slain...and now my eyes are watery too. sheesh....(sniff) I remember what my hubby/best friend said about two weeks ago "The best thing I ever did was marry you" wow....that knocked the breath out of me for....well, I am still breathless from it. :)

Brandi said...

i'm always struck by the memory of some words. i remember the first day i called my grandma "grandma" rather than calling her "ray" which my speech impediment had made me take to. she was so proud of me, so impressed. it wasn't until years later that i realized how well "ray" fit her. i remember bad words too, because there were hard times in my life when so-called friends hurt me or boyfriends treated me badly. i think those will begin to fade in time, and i expect the things my boyfriend tells me (you're so beautiful, you've got the cutest nose, etc.) will begin to overtake all the bad words and the bad memories will disappear. that ivy moment you had -- i know precisely what that feels like too.

c.bean said...

I don't really hold on to or remember the bad, hurtful words... unless they came out of my own mouth. then they haunt me. the good words... I keep them safely tucked away. I know where they are, where they came from. they carry me, keep me warm, strong.

the words that mean the most to me, that I hold on to the tightest, came from my mom. I had just left her the day before when she called me. I knew she didn't have much time left, but I had spent so much time away and had to come back here, for just a few days. my sister was with her. just a day or two. just call...

she called. by this point she couldn't talk very much, all she could say to me was "I need you." I dropped everything and was back at the airport in an hour.

those words still give me strength and courage I didn't know I had.

this is way too heavy, please forgive!

Sherry said...

i remember the words, but sometimes might get them turned around since i'm usually adding my own little posititve addition to them. but i always remember what everyone was wearing--all the time! i remember which way they turned their head, on which hip they had their hand, and definitely if they were smiling.

mary said...

I just need to tell you that I dream of naming my future baby girl Ivy.

Carry on. xoxo

Kristin said...

i do remember words. they stick with you like scars. most are ones I want to remember, though, and so those I think of as freckles.

I like ivy, too. :)

Kristin said...

Oh my. I just read everyone else's comments. And now have tears streaming down my cheeks. Now you've all got me thinking about how much I miss my grandparents, how I so badly want to rush home to my parents' arms and to give my husband a huge, slobbery kiss for all the lovely, supportive words they've given me. Thanks for reminding me of those, All.

My little bean, Amelia, just rolled over for the first time. And I cried with glee when she did. Just wanted you to know. :)

c.bean said...

by the way, i like ivy too. it's my youngest girl's name and it suits her to a T! beautiful, tenacious... powerful.

and I haven't mentioned it before this, because I'm usually not one to comment... I'm so glad that you're back. you just about broke my heart when you went away.

karey m. said...

your comments are KILLING me! and c.bean? who are you? my heart is absolutely giant for you right now...

and amelia! kristen...are we the first to know about this development?! honored. tell wes when he gets home. no need to bother him!

you guys are the greatest. you just are. you're all - each and every one of you - making this snow day way more fun.


c.bean said...

aw shucks, I'm just an imaginary friend.

and really, I usually don't make comments. but you inspired me today. it must have been the ivy! no. it was the words.

billy said...

Hi Karey

my father told me he was proud of me. he wrote it down.
he told me I was stronger than I thought. he was right. i keep the thank yous and the smiles with me.

You got me thinking today.

Em. said...

I know we've never met, but can I just say... I adore your writing. I look forward to you and reading the words you so delicately string together... everyday. Thank you.
I love your t.ruffles shop, too, by the way. :)

karey m. said...

c.bean...well, then, good. i'm fond of my imaginary friends. nice to meet you.

and em. thank you. sometimes {most times!} i'm so embarrassed by my ramblings. that you think they're delicately strung together made me laugh but sit up a little straighter.

and billy. i know i commented on this one, but i really really really liked this: http://alongthisline.blogspot.com/2010/02/sun-crept-in.html


pen.ny said...

I remember words like its my job. Bad ones, good ones. I try to remember the ones that come out of my own mouth but it seems more difficult. Its amazing how in times where you need strength its these memories that keep you going. And yet it can be words that can bring you to some of your saddest moments. Who said actions speak louder than words? Its the words, the words always STICK.

mrs. darling said...

i try to cling to the good ones and hold on to the bad. a few months after i graduated college i moved to africa to do some aid and my mom told me i was her hero. her hero. i never, ever forgot that and clung to it during the days i wasn't sure if i would make it home again. my dad told me i was strong, and i would much rather be strong than maybe anything else in the world. but the one that stayed with me the most? my husband. he told me i made his life better by being his wife. that one? that one took the air from my lungs and brought tears to my eyes.

words are so unbelievably powerful. thank you for sharing yours.

Catherine Hansen Peart said...

You know, I have never been to this blog before and I can't rightly remember how I got here today (short attention span? yeesh). What a beautiful post and what lovely thoughtful commenters you have. Just to enter the conversation, the favourite words I remember came from my mother when she told me she thought I had inherited just the good points from herself and my Dad. After a rocky childhood those words meant a lot.

karey m. said...

catherine! i was just thinking that! i sort of want to kirtsy my commenters, you know? each comment seems like a really brilliant story in itself. i'm glad you popped in. i am.

lauren...true true.

and mrs. darling? i got a little choked up! your mom's hero?! ugh. that breaks my heart! yours and melissa's husbands are sweet. hearts.

also. real quick. sherry...i totally remember those details, too. if history was about what she wore and what he said? i'd be a professor and you'd probably be the dean of harvard, yes?

and mary. ivy? really? i love it. i think esme was going to be an ivy for a second or two. the whole flower theme was getting slim-pickins.

xoxo, all! i've loved this little convo, haven't you?

Anonymous said...

Hey Karey! Im a 'stalker' from Singapore. My name is Zil!

Words I remembered an ex boyfriend of mine from Pittsbursh said to me when we were in love 21 years ago after he sent me home was...LOOK AT THE FULL MOON! WHEN YOU SEE THAT IN NEAR FUTURE, YOU WILL KNOW I WILL BE THINKING OF YOU! And till now when I see a full moon, I would just be breathless knowing that he and I will be thinking of each other. Our life has changed with family and all and I wish him all the happiness in life.


peege said...

You've all made me weep, all those beautiful words resulting from One who's life is words.
The day after my father died, I was sitting in the kitchen garden grief stricken, waiting. My three-year old daughter came out from inside & looked straight into me and out of nowhere said these words,"don't be sad, my love is true, your father is watching you" she touched me with her chubby hand and left me dumb struck.

peege said...

You've all made me weep, all those beautiful words resulting from One who's life is words.
The day after my father died, I was sitting in the kitchen garden grief stricken, waiting. My three-year old daughter came out from inside & looked straight into me and out of nowhere said these words,"don't be sad, my love is true, your father is watching you" she touched me with her chubby hand and left me dumb struck.

karey m. said...

zil! you MUST have a blog! direct us to it...and thanks for sharing about the moon. don't you wonder if he's thinking of you? i would...

and rajha. i. miss. you. of course little miss sunshine would be so connected. what angel wouldn't want to hang with that one?! p.s. i miss you. a kiss to your sisters and mom, as i miss them, too.

megan said...

karey. you've done it again. i've reread this post multiple times today and it still leaves me breathless...and a little wet-eyed.

my life--personally and professionally--literally revolves around words, so i always try to slip the ones that really affect me into my back pocket. the ones i come back to over and over again, though, are my grandfather's. three or four months before he died, he and my grandmother moved to an assisted living facility. looking back, i honestly think my grandfather knew he didn't have much longer, because otherwise he would have battled more(he was a former army general--my grandfather was always full of fight).

as the days and weeks slipped through the cracks of the year, so did his health, and soon he was on oxygen full time. but one day, my aunt walked into his and my grandmother's room to find that the two of them had dragged their walkers to the middle of the floor and were slow-dancing to the music on the television--a frank sinatra song. my aunt said it literally took her breath away, and when the song was over, my grandfather looked at her, his daughter, and said, "all the things in your life that you do--that you put on your mental checklist? they don't matter at the end. what matters is who you're sitting on your front porch with when you're 90." (my grandparents always loved their beautiful front porch.)

he repeated those words several times to me before he died, often adding, "i love you," which was something i didn't hear often from the general. he was a general, after all. they're tough--they're more about action than words. but oh, when that man spoke--we listened.

i miss him every day of my life. i'm so thankful i have his words.

Natalie said...

What's that saying? Keep your friends close and your enemies closer? The same can be said of words for me. I keep the kind words close, but the harsh words even closer. It's probably a totally skewed way of doing it, but I do use both to try and better myself.

And the ivy is stunning. I would love to have ivy.

karey m. said...

meg. gan. as my mom {and sadly, esme!} would say, jesus mary and joseph. can you imagine walking around with the weight of that gorgeous memory? wow. i love that story so so so much. it's a keeper. heck. i'm going to keep it.

and natalie. i've never heard that before. keep the harsh words even closer. i trust your approach, though. i do. probably makes you the writer you are, you know?

and ivy. yes. didn't know how much i loved the ivy. xoxo, all.

Simply Mel said...

Karey, what would we do without words! They are the very essence of our existence, non?

My great uncle always called me "smiley" and whenever we were together, he would look me straight in the eyes and say, "Smiley, never let life take that smile from you!" Never made much sense to me as a child, but as I grew older (and he continued to repeat this same sentence for 25 years!), it all made sense. My smile is still as big as ever!

And a very dear friend of mine always told me, "never share the bad parts of your day with anyone because that's all they will remember." If you look at it this way, you realize your spirits are always a bit higher when you recount the good things that happen versus dwelling and recounting the bad stuff.

And yes, I love ivy!

karey m. said...

nothing simply about you, melissa. and i feel the same way about smiling. the same way. one of my secret tricks is to nod and smile when i'm talking to someone not-so-nice. all of a sudden, they're smiling and nodding and not-so-mean! it's a good trick. i need to remember that more often. xoxo.

Natalie said...

Ahh Karey, you are full of light and whimsy and love. I carry those things inside too, but not in such great quantities. It is why YOU write lovely things and why I am not a writer at all :)

I am a pessimist by nature. It's an awful affliction.

{lovely little things} said...

I have a difficulty letting go of words; both good and bad. I can hear the "I Love you's," said to me, and ones I've said, those moments are bright with color...

I can remember the cutting words that I'd rather forget, but helped learn a lesson.

I can remember the words and promises for a future together with someone. These are the ones I treasure.

Tuxedo Black Cashmere Pink said...

Besides remembering things of the past all i want to say is, what beautiful images! Don't you just lurvvvve Ivy!? A simply divine and gorgeous post to read and look at!

Zil said...

Dear Karey! Oh yes I do wonder whether he thinks of me now and then. And one the many words etched in me is SEIZE THE DAY!! from one of the great movie we watched DEAD POET SOCIETY! I still keep all his letters in a nice box which he wrote to me again and again! Great memories which I told to my kids too.

Thanks for replying Karey and I adore your blog. Sorry I dont have a blog but reading your blog and other comments from your imaginary friends has been a ritual everyday before I start my day. Keep it up.


vintage simple said...

Well. You've all done it again. I'm all teary-eyed. I don't really have any words right this minute - I feel you've all said them perfectly. I will tuck them away in my back pocket... and go have a day.


c.bean said...

so I spent the whole day yesterday thinking about words. your words. my words. the words of others. words unsaid. words I wished I had used instead of the ones that I did use. the words that I got absolutely right. the words that were very wrong. I went to bed drunk with words and awoke with a word hangover. so here I am, again.

thanks for the very thoughtful day you helped me to have. I needed it.

and that ivy... it's magical stuff.

jules @ The Diversion Project said...

some words stick like glue forever, usually for a reason.

They give you hope when you need it the most, they remind you that there is so much beauty in the world, or meanness. they bring the lesson that you don't know yet that you need to learn.

They take you back to a time and a promise that was never kept, or the joy of just being and living a promise you didn't know was on offer.

for me words are like little rays of light captured from the people that i've crossed paths with. my darling dad - 'oh don't worry about me, i'm ok. really'. A - 'you wait, i'll make it up to you some day'. S - 'i wish they were my headlights'. E - 'i want you to be the happiest person on earth'. And my lads - 'i love you infinity plus 1'.

i collect words like this and keep them in my pocket too. you never know when you'll need them, or when you'll finally 'get' them.

lovely stuff, jules.

krista said...

i'm not sure what this says about me..but i tend to remember the compliments from strangers more than anything else.
one told me that he liked the way my mind worked when we were discussing something controversial.
another asked me if i owned the cafe i worked at at the time and when i said no, i was the manager, he said 'oh, i assumed this was your place because you seem to care that much about it.'
(that was my favorite compliment to date.)
other than that i tend to remember the bad. it keeps me balanced and helps me remember who i don't want to be.
like when i called my grandparents to tell them i was pregnant and my grandmother told me she was sorry.
or when my dad said he was disappointed.
of course, they're completely in love with my daughter now, but those words stay. they stick.
and i don't forget them.

[emt] said...

I remember things my mom says. Everything. The good. The bad. Things I want to hear. Things I don't want to hear. I tend to keep the things I don't want to hear at the top of my list because even though I don't want them to be true, they are. Then there are the good things like how I'm an inspiration to her (Me? An inspiration to her?! She's supposed to be an inspiration to me and she is!) and how I'm stronger than I think I am (Which she usually tells me when I'm calling her in rush hour with tears on my words.).

karey m. said...

jules...almost lost my latte when i read "i wish those were my headlights."

and [emt]...tears on my words. may have to steal that phrase someday. gorgeous.

krista...it screams so much about you, your favorite compliment yet. you know?

loved these comments so so so so much. thanks to all...i'll keep checking back in. OH! and i kirtsy'd you all...so i hope people visit your sites for more of YOUR genius words.

karey m. said...

one more thing. krista? that's a tough one to let go. when lillie was three months old, i was pregnant again with grae. my hairdresser asked me "are you going to keep it?"

amazing color genius. complete idiot. never went back.

Estelle said...

"You are a delicate flower" said my college boyfriend's mother to me. It was not a compliment. I was embarrassed and hurt but I tried to laugh and act like it was funny. I think it hurt because I knew it was true but I did not want to be seen that way. Well, this is going to keep me thinking all day.

A Free Man said...

I try to leave the bad behind as well. Sometimes it comes through, in the weak moments, but mostly it is the good things that stay with me. That I keep and cherish.

This is a beautiful place.

Gemma said...

What beautiful, perfect timing.
My phone got wiped last night of all its messages - every single one. and it wasn't the sms's filled with phone numbers or dates or important details that I'm supposed to be saving to refer to later that I was so devestated for losing.... it was all of the compliments that my ex boyfriend had sent to me over the course of our relationship and beyond. Every single one of them I kept because every single time I read them it stopped me in my tracks and made me smile in my soul, no matter what was going on in my world. It didn't matter that we were no longer together because it was simply enough that somebody at sometime in my life had said those things to me.... but now I realise thank you to your post, I don't need them. I'll always remember that I am unconditionally adorable. Thank you.

ZDub said...

Goodness, I needed this.

I do love ivy. It's so inappropriate yet just lovely. All at the same time.

vintage simple said...

You know..? I was thinking while I was walking my dog yesterday, that I have words one of your girlies three said that have stuck with me... You know the post about heart. racing. you did on Melissa's blog..? "Oh, goodie. It's on." Those have been safely tucked away - for when I lose sight of what's important.

That's all. I just wanted to let you know.


Elizabeth said...

I don't care what ivy does to walls and bricks. I love it. It's such a part of my favorite things about Boston.

And I do hold onto words. I think compliments and insults shape the self-confidence we have as adults. I remember almost everything my mother ever said to me when she was alive, and I find myself "collecting" compliments my dad gives to me these days.

karey m. said...

GEMMA! my heart just dropped to the floor. i'm so sorry. i used to call my sister's phone all the time after she died just to hear her voice. it got too sad, though.

zdub. inapproprite yet lovely all at the same time? see your most recent post: asianness. eep!

maria. thank you. i felt like i totally failed on that post. like, it wasn't enough. and a racy video?! oy. i still feel like i let melissa down. so your words TOTALLY help.

elizabeth. so nice that you're collecting. that was a lovely sentence right there.