Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: BAR

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann. I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I intend to write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?
Here are January's prompts: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.


I don't have any memories from childhood that involve a drinking establishment kind of bar – my parents were teetotalers, though I suspect my father did drink some, just not around us. 

I have only limited experience with a ballet bar, as I took dance classes when I was wee and did temporarily nurture dreams of toe shoes. One of the best compliments I ever received was that I have a “dancer's neck.” Unfortunately that grace does not extend to my other body parts. Instead, my best party trick is to wow people with the odd angles my double-jointedness creates. 

I do, however, have a memory to share related to monkey bars. I was a climber as a child and loved trees, swingsets, slides, merry-go-rounds, you name it. I still enjoy high look-out places and have not experienced that fear of heights my husband suffers from. 

I loved playing on the monkey bars at school during recess, and one day, as I was happily atop, I saw my mother walking down the sidewalk. I instantly cringed, not because I was on top of the monkey bars (she encouraged our explorations) but because I wasn't wearing the same clothes I'd gone to school in. 

At the time my mom was sewing my clothes, and they were not cool AT ALL, so each morning on the bus I would change into something else. And on this day, I was up on the monkey bars with no way to hide. She noticed right away, and it was a big deal in our relationship and a big moment in me becoming my own person. 

My mother wrote me a letter expressing how hurt she was – a letter I still have. I hated disappointing her, but I also didn't want to wear those homemade clothes anymore. After that day, I was able to wear other things to school. It took quite a few more years for me to learn what a gift those homemade clothes had been – what a gift any homemade gift is. Thankfully I've been able to express that to my mother many times since then.


  1. There is that time for each, I think, and you've grabbed it, Irene, that we must become our own person. The word prompts are going to make your memories come alive, aren't they?

  2. I think writing about our lives is a wonderful gift to pass on to our children. I just ordered a copy of the book and will join you on this year-long journey! I've been looking for a way to write more blog posts, and I love this idea.

  3. I can really feel that story, Irene! I got caught sometimes as a child (it took me a while to decide it was okay to wear glasses and I got caught not wearing them!). So scary!


Your thoughts?