Last week I asked my downtown Chicago group of memoir-writers to come up with 500-word essays titled What Makes Me Happy. “Don’t come back with lists, or with vague things like ‘family and friends’,” I said. I asked them to write about an event from the past couple weeks that left them feeling fresh, energized, rejuvenated. “What was it about that specific experience that made you so happy?” The writers did not disappoint.
Sandy wrote about the teeny-tiny narrow view she has of Lake Michigan from her 7th floor Chicago apartment. “If I stand in the right hand corner of my living room and look to my left with my forehead resting on the window, I can see my small piece of the sky, sand and water.” The sky was a rosy pink the morning she wrote her piece, and the huge blocks of ice at the edge of the lake were starting to melt. “We can see the sand again,” she wrote. “And, instead of non-moving frozen water on the lake, the small waves are showing their white caps as they roll in at the shoreline.”
Nancy shares lunch and laughter with two longtime friends every Sunday, and her essay described them playing a card game after a recent lunch. “I seem to lose more often than I win, but IF Jo and Elaine were here, they’d tell you I was exaggerating.” She said every week each of them thinks they are the loser. “By the following Sunday, nobody remembers who won the week before anyway.”
Thumbing through a photo album she started in 1960 reminded Sheila that the photography hobby she enjoys to this day started with a memorable gift. “Aunt Anona gave me my best 8th grade graduation present,” she wrote. “It was a Kodak Hawkeye camera.”
Tycelia had just returned from a trip to Mexico City where she visited the Temple of the Moon at Teotihuacan. “When my husband passed this summer, I felt that all of my happiness had died with him,” she wrote. “But I felt happy to have succeeded in my attempt to climb that magnificent temple — for the first time in months, my heart had a break from sorrow.”
Yesterday was the last meeting for this eight-week session with that group of memoir-writers, and it was energizing to end on such a happy note. The seniors in all four memoir-writing classes I lead here in Chicago are all on spring break now, and so am I.
No doubt I’ll be publishing a post soon on a happy event: Whitney, Mike and I are taking off tonight for a four-day visit in Washington, D.C. We’ll be staying with our dear friends Pick and Hank, and being with those two, enjoying Hank’s fine cooking, singing along to Pick’s sensational piano playing, sharing stories and jokes and laughs, well, that always makes us happy.