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Mapping Homes from Memory (Thanks, Ben)

My son Ben gets credit for this project suggestion in our family. He asked us to draw from memory the rooms of an old home, grandparents' home, or other memorable place.

You don't need to seek perfection here with straight lines, or to be concerned with getting it right. I promise you don't need an artistic bone in your body to do this exercise. But you will thank yourself later. And who knows maybe others will too since this is an indirect but clever way to get the memory juices flowing about homes of the past.

This project might be more juicy and fruitful if it's instead approached in these ways:

  • As you draw, write details, emotions, events, other memories associated with each room.

  • What items stand out in each room - as a child? as a teen? as an adult?

  • What was the tone of each room or is it that simple?

  • Were you given free reign to move about certain rooms? Or were there certain protocols, rules, practices, et cetera?

  • What part do you wish you had visited more and why?

  • Don't worry about this looking like you're an architect. Just draw and remember.

  • Share your draft with someone else who's been there and exchange notes. Decide if you agree or disagree. The contradictions might be more fun. Or you might change your memory based on what the other person says, or vice versa.

  • Work together with others if you want after the first draft, but my gut says it's best to do your first draft alone. Otherwise you might forget to include your own memories and their paths.

Write me (email on my website) and share what your experiences were with this exercise. I'd love to hear about it. As a side note, this exercise suggestion led me to find the current (and only the 2nd owner with my grandparents being the first in 1950) owner of my paternal grandparents home. We had a lovely conversation on Christmas Eve in fact. The current owner was delighted as was I that they were feeding the finches outside the same window where my grandpa fed birds for years. Sometime next week, he's going to share some pictures of the house and some of his experiences of living there since the early 90s.

(This photo is a mystery to me. I do know that one of the women is my great grandmother. And my best guess is this is a vacation with friends at some cabin. But sure wish I knew more. That's why this mapping project could be so helpful to younger generations and people who would like to know memories like this)

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