Does the smell of the first fall day evoke memories for you?Perhaps the smell of a brisket cooking?Marcel Proust wrote volumes (literally) about these types of memories beginning from the crumbs of a small French pastry, a madeleine, and freely associating memories elicited by that cookie. For those like me who appreciated the concept of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, but couldn't read the whole trilogy (or even fifty pages) and thought there was much ado about nothing regarding the madeleine cookie (easily trumped by mandelbrodt), there is an alternative.
"Stuff that Reminds Me of Other Things: A Walking Tour," created and presented by Keely Wolter, was one of the 174 shows presented at the Minneapolis Fringe Theater Festival.
Dressed in what looked to be our vintage Columbus School for Girls uniforms, Keely and her assistant distributed a handmade tour guide and a pen instructing us to add our own stuff that we're reminded of as we walk and then to turn in our journals at the end. Would there be a grade?
We covered perhaps one mile of the University of Minnesota campus in one hour and at different random points, in front of a tree, an electrical box, a bridge, a sundial, the actor told us a story that very loosely inspired by that place.It included a story about sleeping in her flat in England and hearing a vixen scream (a fox mating call), the time when she quit her job out of indignation, and a failed audition for the Shakespeare Repertory Theatre. I couldn't walk and write fast enough because her stories were causing my mind to run rampant with my stories - many funny, sad, heretofore forgotten, but all part of my crazy life.I needed lots of journals.
Listening to Keely, I learned a lot as well.People love to listen to stories, especially when the narrator is engaging and suspenseful. It brought me back to childhood. I loved how she kept her energy up until the very end and chirpily provided a non sequitur transition to send us marching on.She had us in the palm of her hand.
What does this have to do with Jewish Luck?The joy to me of having written the book was to tell a story.I am reminded of that joy every time I talk to Vera on Skype because her face and her intonation are so animated.She never fails to make me laugh, grimace, or feel whatever I am designed to feel. Of course, Vera and Alla's stories reminded Meryll and me of our stories.The icing on the "madeleine" is that when we speak to groups of people from age 20 to age 90, we discover that the book evoked memories for them as well.
Now I think that talking about "stuff that reminds me of other things" is a lovely way to converse while taking a walk or driving in a car with your kids.The rule is that each person has to hear what the other is saying and then associate based on what you have heard and that the memory be pleasant or humorous but not mean.
If you are lucky enough to have a Fringe Festival in your city, dive in – it's a wonderful and wild ride of surprises, a great way to come together as a community, and you may be surprised by some pleasant forgotten memories that emerge. Better yet, make some new memories.