I was thinking about what I would want to write about, because Eric, Jonathan*, Teddy and I are all writing a lot in the next few months, and I feel as if I lack a focus, something to tie all this together. It’s not like I’m writing about sandwiches or breakfasts or anything that has a consistent theme.
But for a long time, I’ve been thinking about how fleeting our memories are, and how easy it is to forget what we do in our lives. People sometimes remind me of something I did, or I read something I wrote for the student newspaper at Pitzer and am amazed at how foreign it sounds and how little I remembered.
And that makes me wonder what I’ll pass on to my children. With all the things I have left from the last few decades of life – mostly books, some photos, a few vases, a nice incense holder, some old wooden crates, a guitar – what will they know of how I spent my days? What will they know of what I thought before they were born, how our lives were lived? How will I ever tell them about our time in Cambodia, or Fiji, and how will they ever know how difficult I am finding learning how to program? How could I possibly sit down and talk about the time that George Inman showed me how to make chili, and what it was like to sail on Lake Erie, and about getting stuck on an island off of Puerto Rico in a hurricane? Would they find solace in knowing I seem to have a physical aversion to putting spoons, knives and forks in the silverware drawer, but I’m happy to wash all the dishes? How will I tell them about the time I spent with a Christian fundamentalist group, and what if I forget the little details of how I came to love coffee because I saw John Johnson at an Awkward Sex Show in 2012? When they’re 20, 30, 40, what will I feel comfortable discussing with them, and what will I never get the time to say?
And this comes from wondering about my own parents. What were they like when I was growing up? The only thing I really remember is that they read to us when we were little, and my dad used to do exercises in the back yard on a trampoline, and they were funny and kind and sometimes argued and they always read the newspaper. They took care of the yard and both worked very hard. People loved them. They had little Toyota Corollas – light blue, hatchbacks – and then my mom got a tan Toyota van, then a white one, and they always smelled like laundry and the sun.
But I don’t know what habits they tried to adopt. My mom was married before she met my dad, but I don’t know if my dad dated a lot when he was young, or if he was ever in love. I don’t know where they went when they were traveling without us. I don’t know what it was like for them to live in Charleston, South Carolina, or Lorain, Ohio, except that they thought that the latter was cold and the former was hot and both of them were boring. Why did they make the decisions they made? What were the turning points in their lives? What did they make a huge effort to learn, or think about?
I guess I want my kids to have some sort of record of what I was like before they were born – all the things I want to remember to tell them, but probably won’t. So that’s what I’m going to be writing about from now on, for them.
*Well, it looks like Jonathan was “Activated” with the Ohio Air National Guard, so we’ll have to wait for his posts.