We All Lived Here

At EWU we are proud of the accomplishments of our alumni, and want to share and promote their work as much as we can. We are also interested in giving prospective students a sense of what living in Spokane while pursuing their MFA might be like. So we are launching this new project called We All Lived Here. On this page we will be publishing work from our alumni that speaks to the idea of home while living in Spokane. We will be collecting these pieces for an anthology to be published by our very own Willow Springs Books in the future. We hope that you enjoy these pieces as much as we do, and that you will check out the archive for more. *If you are an EWU alum who wishes to submit work for this project, please click here for details, and make sure to use this link to sign up for our alumni mailing list!

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We will be featuring one piece per month below, and archiving work here.

Please enjoy this lyric essay by 2010 non-fiction graduate Amaris Ketcham. Amaris was inspired by Joe Brainard’s book I Remember. Learn more about Amaris on her website.

I Remember Winter

I remember eighty inches of snow falling in one week.

I remember icicles wider than me, even with my coat on, forming columns connecting the gutter of a second-story Victorian home to the ground.

I remember being told that because I was from the South I hadn’t known winter. I remember thinking that person was wrong.

I remember all the people from the North described their states as mitts and pointed out where they were from by how close or far they were from the thumb-peninsula.

I remember my first coat. I had moved with a jean jacket that I’d thought was a coat until I realized I was the only one shivering during smoke breaks. In February of my first winter, my father sent me his 80s Eddie Bauer down parka. Navy blue and several sizes too big, the coat often got me mistaken for a homeless teenager. As I walked across downtown Spokane, people offered me food or a ride to the shelter. I remember thinking how nice everyone was.

I remember building a snow-woman in Coeur d’Alene Park.

I remember a boy who skied down South Hill to work.

I remember the cuffs of my jeans frozen stiff. I remember wondering at what temperature frozen pants might shatter.

I remember walking eight miles each day, to work, to school, home and learning which streets got salt and which didn’t. Walking, slipping, and catching myself became an intense core workout.

I remember falling backward on the ice and landing on my cigarette lighter in my back pocket. I remember the swelling, a bruise the size of a grapefruit, and not wanting to sit for a week.

I remember being told to look for Yaktrax and Nikwax.

I remember buying myself a pair of Gore-Tex shoes for my birthday. Even though I bought them on clearance, I had never spent that much money on a pair shoes. They were $80 and they promised me warm, dry feet, which was worth a lot more.

I remember finding a pair of neon yellow ski pants at a yard sale that I could wear over jeans during my walking commute and shed in the bathroom. I remember the first time I wore them, how I felt impenetrable.

I remember other students losing their cars because they were in the path of snowplows.

I remember snow berms built between lanes on the roads. Car exhaust browned them and they melted in places but not entirely, resembling the rock formations in Arches National Park by March.

I remember the sun rising at 8 am and setting at 4 pm, and how some days I never saw daylight.

I remember “drive-thru espresso huts,” which were small, standalone cafes in parking lots. They often had puns for names: Brews Brothers, Bean Me Up Espresso, Higher Grounds, Hold Your Grounds, Java The Hut, The Supreme Bean, and Wake Up Call.

I remember switching from iced tea to hot tea. Earl Grey became my favorite, because bergamot reminded me of spring.

I remember making a lentil soup that lasted me a week and never wanting to eat lentil soup again.

I remember taking long baths in my clawfoot bathtub while listening to This American Life.

I remember my wet hair freezing if I stepped outside.

I remember carrying a space heater from room to room with me.

I remember wearing fingerless gloves while I typed my homework.

I remember using a hair dryer to seal a thin layer of plastic over the inside of the windows. The wind would beat against the plastic covering, drumming through the night. I eventually nailed saddle blankets over the plastic to better insulate the apartment. I forfeited what sunshine I might have seen for more warmth.

I remember dense fog settled over snowy plains.

I remember someone saying, “This is how I imagined the setting of Ethan Frome,” as he exhaled a cloud of breath.

I remember snowshoeing to the top of Mt. Spokane. Snow weighted the evergreens. Frozen moss dripped with icicles. Sunlight reflected off of unbroken snow, making it glitter. I remember realizing that this was the kind of “winter wonderland” Christmas settings tried to replicate.

I remember warm mist rising from the rushing waters of Spokane Falls.

I remember wondering if there was still more of winter to know.

I remember a sculpture of forty people running the Bloomsday race along Spokane Falls Boulevard, looking like they were tiptoeing across an inch of snow.

I remember spring potholes so deep and wide that you could fall through to China.

I remember reading a quote from Camus and adopting it as a personal motto: “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.”

I remember it snowing during the first few days of June. Just a flurry fell and the sun still shone and I remember thinking it was one of the most beautiful sights I’d ever seen.

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