In helping writers explore new ideas and stories, I use all sorts of prompts for timed, stream-of-consciousness writing: Poetry, photographs, tarot cards, fruits and vegetables, you name it.

Last Thursday, for the writing table at the Richmond District YMCA, I brought this cigar box filled with jewelry belonging to my late Aunt Blanch and recently mailed to me by my cousins.

First, we wrote a piece about what might be hidden inside the unopened box. Next, we each selected an item and used it as a starting point.

I chose a wrist watch, and this is the unedited version of what I wrote:

I’m remembering a gift I received as an 11-year-old. A watch. But not just any watch. This watch came with 6 different colored bands, which could be switched to match whatever outfit I was wearing on a particular day.

A white band to go with my brown skirt and vest with the big white daisies on them.

A purple band to go with the princess-sleeve, flower-sprinkled mini dress.

A gold band to match the yellow tartan-plaid wraparound skirt with the safety-pin closure and fringe – the one I paired with my first pair of pantyhose.

Although it was September 1970 and hot as hell, I wore pantyhose and that yellow skirt and that yellow watch to my first real concert at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. It was Peter, Paul and Mary with Gordon Lightfoot as the opener.

What a magical night! Me floating down the aisle to my seat in my panthose. All grown up and sweating like a grievously overweight 50-year-old. Yet super sexy in my pantyhose and safety pin.

Gordon Lightfoot broke a string on his guitar. He made jokes into the microphone as he replaced it and retuned. I thought that was so cool. Just part of my cool, new world.

 

I lead writing and mindfulness workshops throughout the Bay Area. My approach is adaptable in many settings — from helping groups honor an important life event to assisting a business team in articulating a shared vision. Contact me to learn more. For information on my San Francisco real estate practice, visit RealEstateTherapy.org or CynthiaCummins.com.