Friday, June 01, 2007

Thread of memories.

Did you know who you were or who you wanted to be as a child? It is funny, in a way, that I triumphantly sang and drew and painted as a child and that is what I spent most of my adult life doing too. My father heavily guided me into sports, and classes guided me to sit down, and teachers guided me to write with my right hand and not my left. But every time I got a bathroom pass at school I would lock myself in a stall and sing Arethra Franklin songs at the top of my lungs, echoing down the hallways, until teachers or Principal would crawl under to unlock, march me to the office, and call my mother (again). Every time I had a pencil in my hand I would draw. Every time I had an open field I would run.

Most of my childhood memories are not of school. Most are of roaming in the woods (kids used to be able to do that), climbing a ridiculously high ladder into a wobbly treehouse, riding bikes down kamikaze steep hills only to lift my legs as I ran over the venomous snake sunning itself on the warm trail. Camping in the woods. Girl Scouts. Riding in the back of our car with my head out the window on those sticky hot summer nights singing along to some cheesy 70's song at the top of my lungs. I remember finding abandoned buildings in the middle of nowhere to explore. Sledding down suicide hill. Drawing obsessively on my notebook while lying on a huge rock in our creek. Fishing for crawdads (and "catching" water mocassins). Sitting on the roof of the car to watch car races from the road at night. Going to my dads baseball games and playing with all of the other players kids under the bleachers...the hot nights, the loud cheers, the bright stadium lights, the smell of hot dogs and popcorn. Baton/corps practice on hot asphalt all summer long with kids from all over of all ages (and the cute drummers!!). Going fishing. Swimming all summer long.

Sure, I remember other things too. The best teacher in grade school was a nun - my music teacher with a beautiful afro who had the voice of an angel and a heart of gold. The best coach I had wasn't one of those expensive elite private coaches I had for many of my sports - but the young dad who coached track for the girls team. The kind older gentlemen who taught me to play chess on the park district boards each summer. My moms friend from the park district who built his own boat from scratch in his back yard in Missouri and when it was done, quit his job and sailed it throughout the Carribbean. The track coach who committed suicide and changed my life. A friends dad who came back after being a POW in Vietnam and sat in the corner and told us stories as we played.

At a park with the boys today my husband and I watched a school bus unload a batch of kids. As we watched one young boy crying the entire way from bus to home dragging his things behind him, I laughed and said, well, I guess our kids won't ever have the bus ride home from school experience! And you know, that isn't what makes you *you*. Daily LIFE is - the in betweens. Life is what forms you, makes you who you are, influences who you become. Not sitting in rows day after day or riding on a school bus. Life is a string of memories all tying together day by day who we are and who we will become into one long thread - and what do YOU remember most? And what memories are you creating now?

So I remembered. I remembered a life of many places, many people, many ages, many experiences, many triumphs, many mistakes. And who I was and who I have become are pretty close together. I take a look at my boys, and the things that give them the most joy, what day to day memories we are making, and what kind of life I want them to have. I want magic. I want memories. I want those in betweens.


Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

What a deep post.

When I thought about my childhood, I had the same experience you did. Who I am today was not molded by school or the big things, but as you said, "the in-between times."

denise said...

Exactly! :)