Recently, I attended a short class on memoir led by Scott Korb. Our assignment was to bring objects that were old, borrowed, and blue (Scott provided us with the ‘something new’). The class was mostly generative, but before we started writing we talked about how each person’s individual consciousness shapes their particular voice.
In retrospect, I found it freeing to write a personal essay that focused on specific objects. I learned to give myself over to the thing outside of myself. I followed the threads, allowing for chance comparisons to arise, and trusted that the connections would reveal themselves.
I appreciated that we wrote these pieces in a different order than the wedding rhyme from which this writing prompt is referencing. Below is what I wrote, unedited. I like the idea that this piece will live as a relic of the class.
The ring was passed down to her from another person, I know not who. It is old, though, aged in the way that only items passed down can be. It reminds me of the rings passed down in my family—the ones my great-grandmother made with her bare hands. But this ring is not of my family. It may or may not be my friend’s great grandmother’s ring, I do not know. I can see that it is old because the silver is tarnished. The teeth that grip the blue stone, sunken. I imagine this ring has known many hands, hands that are now of the earth.
These hands that are now of the earth ask after the ring. They ask my friend to pass it down as a type of remembrance. But my friend does not pass down, not today. She slips me the ring—she passes along, passes over. Her sharing is not a type of preserving, but a conversation. With an open palm, she says: “Here, take this.”
In class, I study a post card. It is a photo of the Aging Cellars at Olympia Brewing Company. There are two rows of white tanks and two long, white hoses that snake over a shiny brick floor. Halogen lights and a grey door in the distance. Half-way down the line, a man, dressed in all white, holds a clipboard and examines a tank. He makes note of what he sees.
My friend has just told me that she can’t hold it all—her many selves and the many people for whom she cares. She cannot store it. I take note. I sit next to her and give her my hand, drawn up from the earth. I say that I love her, but I’m late for a class, and I still need to find items that are old, borrowed, and blue. She slips the ring from her hand and says: “Here. Take this.”