Patricia Carlisle’s 26-Minute Memoir

Hi Readers,26

In 2009 I started a blog called 26-Minute Memoir and started publishing 26-Minute Memoirs–stories that describe the essence of your life written in 26 minutes–from students, friends, Facebook and blog followers. In my book Writing Is My Drink: A Writer’s Story of Finding Her Voice (And a Guide to How You Can Too), I encourage readers to write their own 26-Minute Memoirs and send them to me, and now they are! Below you’ll find Patricia Carlisle’s 26-Minute Memoir. Please feel free to write one of wimd-34your own. You can find instructions and links to other 26-Minute Memoirs here:


Patricia Carlisle’s 26-Minute Memoir

Dancing: it lasted less than 26 minutes

  by Patricia Carlisle

The music flowed out of the open car door. The night was starry and clear, the dry eastern Washington high desert waved in the moonlight. And we danced. Right there in the middle of the dirt road. Belly to belly, cheek to cheek. We danced.

The sultry voice of Anita Baker was reminding us of the purpose to our journey. This was it. Dancing under the stars in a world huger than huge and we were the only ones dancing. Our shadow was long and thinner than we. The bright moon was at one-third mast, outlining the low and distant hills to the east, not quite reaching the dark Cascades to the west. Our shadow pointed toward home, toward the mountain pass and we danced toward the light.

It was 25 years ago, or more. I do not recall why we were there or exactly when it was. I only remember the warm air and the hot cheeks. I only remember that the music pulsed deeply, slowing my heartbeat, commanding me to move with it, though I knew no steps. I am no dancer. Mostly our sneakers shuffled in the gravel and we swayed in the light breeze. This was no tango, no waltz, just a vague and slow two-step.

The moon applied the brakes to the everyday, stopped us in our tracks. The city life, where the music was dissonant and loud, didn’t make me want to dance. In that life the car door never stood open asking me to stand in the road. We never danced in the living room or in clubs. Our moments were spent walking from the closed car door to the next door of duty.

We dared a car to come by and interrupt and none came. So we danced, slow and just a bit awkward, and not giving a damn that we were too nerdy to be this romantic. Two lovers, partners, friends breathing the night air, asking it to refresh us. Letting the music set our minds free.

It only lasted a few minutes, that first song and then the next, but the shadow of our entwined arms still reaches across the mountains. We don’t dance much, never did. So when I was gathering the recycling and Anita Baker’s voice came out of the iPad, I was there, again, in the road, dancing cheek to cheek. And the friend, the partner, the lover, now wife, will be home soon and it will be time for lunch.

About Theo Pauline Nestor

Author of Writing Is My Drink (Simon & Schuster) and How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed. Learn more about my courses, editing, and coaching at
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1 Response to Patricia Carlisle’s 26-Minute Memoir

  1. Patty, this is beautiful. Theo – thank you for sharing!

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