The following is my personal response to the poem [anyone lived in a pretty how town] by e.e. cummings. It explores the themes presented in the poem regarding the transition into adulthood and the drastic changes an individual may go through when this loss of innocence and loss of youth occurs.
It was normal in Cambridge to forget.
On the year one was to turn eighteen — no matter the day on which they were born — on the day of winter solstice, in the town of Cambridge, they would forget.
Forget the touch of their mother (which should have been warm but was not), forget the feeling of sun on their face (which should have been warm but was not), forget the idea of love and hope and warmth itself.
Our mothers and fathers told us that it was to the best of our interests, to forget these younger years, as life was cold and the sun would always set and there was no point in hoping for more. In the past, they said, when the parents of their parents would remember, it was as if they had to wake up each morning to less warmth and less sun and less love than they once had.
Forgetting is not forced upon us. It happens, somehow, that the coldest and darkest of days in the year brings with it a ‘clean slate’ (as our parents would call it) for the soon-to-be adults. Our parents, of course, were one of the few things we would remember. It was better, of course, they insisted. We would be stronger and wiser and better if we forget.
Our mothers and fathers introduced us when we were twelve, and full of pure warmth and innocent love. Before we ever would go out and meet each other, our parents would grasp us by the shoulders, look into our eyes (warm, warm, warm) with their eyes (cold, cold, cold) and remind us that we would forget one day. And we would smile and say ‘I remember,’ and proceed to forget that such thing whenever we looked into each other’s eyes.
Your eyes whispered spring and summer in their blue-green hues, and your hands were warmer than any I had ever touched before, and my fear of forgetting was satiated whenever your eyes and your hands held me.
When our final winter solstice was approaching, I went up to my parents and said we would run away together and I didn’t want to forget and I’m sorry mom, dad, and they looked at me plainly. And my father spoke, and my heart most possibly stopped working, and he said,
“So did we.”
I didn’t want to tell you that, of course, and so I didn’t. And so I packed up a bag, and I know you packed one up to, and I kissed my parents goodbye and ignored their pitying stares and I’ve been here, at the place we promised, and I’ve been waiting, and my heart is worried that your parents may have stopped you, or you….
No, no, you don’t want to forget either. You looked into my eyes and held my hands and we both promised we wouldn’t forget. And—
Oh! There, you’re right there, coming towards me. Your bag looks awfully small, and I feel bad that I did not think to bring extra food and clothes for you and—
And you’ve passed me by just now. I laugh (I panic), and run up to you and smile (I’m terrified) and go for your hand and look into your eyes and—
“Oh. Sorry, I thought… I thought you looked familiar.”
Strange. Not like me to run up to people I don’t know like that. How embarrassing. I must have blanked out, I can’t quite remember what I was to do today…
I’ll have to ask my parents.
(It was normal in Cambridge to forget.)