Because Excerpt

A friend forwarded this National Geographic article, “Far From Home” by Cynthia Gorney because it contains a Because passage. I appreciated the Because excerpt and enjoyed the piece as a whole: the subject is relevant to where I live; Kuwait hosts guest workers whose experiences parallel those shown in the article.

As for the Because passage, each sentence answers the question why a person leaves home to earn money abroad.

In a city of foreign workers these are the stories that predominate: the reasons you’re here, the people you left behind. Frequently they turn out to be one and the same. My daughters, my husband, my parents, and my brother, who is still in the village and who I am now afraid is using drugs. Because I wanted that brother to go to high school. Because although we are eight men in a room meant for four and must soak our filthy work clothes in soapy buckets to remove the smell, the employer pays for my lodgings, leaving me more to send back. Because even though my employer does not pay for my lodgings, I can lower my rent by sharing not only a room but also a bunk, day-shift men and night-shift men taking turns lying down to sleep. Because my wife was pregnant and we were afraid for our baby’s future, and now, by the way, I keep my wife’s picture inside my suitcase, not on the bunkside wall, where the other men in my room might look at her while having private thoughts.

Each sentence tells a story.

I first saw the Because WP exercise in Room to Write by Bonni Goldberg. I’ve adapted the prompt in two ways. First: Start every sentence with Because. Fill a page or two, listing. Or, second: Answer a question (as the above excerpt does) using only sentences that start with Because.

I Lost My Bike Lock First

This is a prompt from A Writer’s Book of Days by Judy Reeves: These are the things I lost. Yesterday and today I played around with this prompt, listing lost things. Today I tried flash fiction:

I lost my bike lock first. Then I lost my bike. I lost my temper, out front of the County Market. I lost days and nights that summer, to nothing, to staring at the television or the sky. I lost my job waiting tables because I got tired of walking there.

I lost my roommate when he came back in August. He emptied his room into his hatchback and drove a few blocks to his girlfriend’s. I lost the microwave, even though his girlfriend probably already had one. He said I could keep his for forty bucks. I said who needs a microwave.

I lost all the occasional cigarettes I bummed and a playlist better than mine.

I lost track of the days, showed up for an exam that was yesterday. At semester I lost my parents’ approval and then their money. I lost my probationary status spring midterm. I lost a lot of weight, walking around campus wearing a backpack weighted with a courseload I quit.

I lost my story. I couldn’t remember what I told my parents or sister. I couldn’t remember what I told my old friends when I saw them and had to say hi. I couldn’t remember what I told my advisor about taking a year off. I couldn’t remember what I told myself that morning.

I Used to Be…But Now…

This is a great, loosening writing exercise from Room to Write by Bonni Goldberg. Fill a page with I used to be ___ but now ___ sentences. Here are some of mine, from a January entry:

I used to be angry but now I am cold.
I used to ache for quiet but now I am deaf.
I used to run fast but now I run long.
I used to want a kitchen with black and white tile but now I have a kitchen that feeds me.
I used to wander at night but now I sleep.
I used to blame you but now I forgive me.
I used to want more but now I live with less.

Fill a page. Loosen up more than I did. Circle a couple sentences you want to explore. Spend a page exploring.