Saturday, July 27, 2013
A little memory, for your memory
Even though I feel like I remember my entire life in one long stream of experiences, I realized that I have also selected, randomly(?), a few sharp, short gestalts that stand in for years of my life. This happens every time I go to the library and take a certain pathway to the wooded park behind it.
I took the kids there on Thursday to meet Dad, Mom, Katie, Jessie and her kids. Dogs were also involved. This is the library I have visited since I first ever was brought to a library and I have thousands of experiences there. The library was the next stop every Saturday morning with Dad after hauling our trash to the dump at Cooper Middle School. After we got books, we headed back to the park, by way of a trail through the woods that used to seem so much longer. I remember Dad enjoying our terror as he gradually increased the gyrations on that springed square platform thing he would try to knock us off of. I remember coming here when we first moved back from Utah, pre-ambulatory Andrew crawling all over the jungle gym while my dad and I threw balls to Charlie (I miss that dog still). My instinct then was to assist Andrew; my dad assured me it would be better to let him learn on his own, to my cheering. A thousand memories in between, and since. After all, this became our library again 2 1/2 years ago.
But for some reason every time I take the path from the basketball courts (where the ghost of Carter Swift will always be playing pick up, since I saw him doing that one apparently very impressive day in the early 90s), walking between the chess table and the tennis courts, I am always back to the August day in 1995 when I was reading Margaret Atwood short story book (The Martian is the story that pops unfailingly into mind). Why that memory out of the thousands? I cannot fathom. But there it is, even Thursday almost 20 years and a whole new life later.
None of this is very interesting or remarkable, but I wanted to record it anyway because it teaches me something important about life in general and raising kids. While I do think our minds tend to latch on to the happy memories and bury the more unworthy ones, it is also true that some of these random ones will be the one illustration we have for a place or a period of time. We don't know which they will be. Already I have been surprised at some of the things that have impressed into my kids' little memories. I want their lives to be so flooded with an ordinary happiness that the random snapshots in their minds will tend to be sweet.
So in case you boys happen to remember anything about this day, or in case you don't remember it at all apart from the hundreds of other trips to that park, let me include some details to sharpen the memory's relief: Andrew ran ahead of us all and was on the jungle gym before I got past 17 year old Carter Swift. After Will and Porter split the hot dog I had wrapped in tin foil, everyone was in the trench. Nana and Papa showed up with Emma, Katie and her dog. Papa sat on the seat of his walker and watched you guys. There was a huge spider web stretched in the sun over the tree roots at the top of the trench; we noticed how many catches it had made. Will had to leave early for camp, and when I returned with McDonalds drive through, Nana and Papa had gone and everyone else had taken the trench out to the creek. Porter was half naked, having thrown his shorts into the creek and buried his underwear, logically, in the sand. You ate cheeseburgers in their wrappers since I thought I didn't have hand sanitizer (I did).
You looked like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting as you threw rocks and used the McDonalds cup to dredge for tadpoles and polywogs. The weather was 72 degrees and sunny. You probably won't remember it was summer because it was so perfect. Porter never really repented of his naughtiness but Andrew, you felt bad because Porter had been acting on your orders. The mosquitos became too much and we went inside the library for books. Andrew, you have been listening to The Lightning Thief for hours on end in your room ever since. When we went to Nana and Papa's later that day, you sat and read Judy Moody almost straight through. Porter, you had to wear a size 3 diaper to go inside the library. You rode there on your scooter. We got frozen yogurt after we left on our way to get Will, whom you were forbidden to tell. Claire, you were perfect the whole time.
It was just a few hours. I hope you remember.