The other day your grandma June, your mom and I were driving somewhere; maybe it was church, maybe it was home, maybe it was to some Eat-Hard-Die-Young-Frozen-Yogurt-Extravaganza. Jade turns to me and asks, “What is your earliest memory?” and I think about it, trying to decide which memories are mine and which memories have been told to me or which memories I’ve seen in photos and kidnapped as my own.
I remember once, my mom, trying to entertain us, putting your aunt and I, in turn, inside of a cardboard box and tumbling it end over end, around the living room, over and over, me inside, not sure which way was up. The only side not taped up landed floor side down and I was stuck inside, screaming. This may have been the day I became claustrophobic. It should be noted that this is an unfair representation of who your grandma is as a person but it IS one of the first things that spring to mind.
I remember making a snowman in our front yard with your aunt Theresa and an older boy that lived down the block. His name was Andy and he wore a red leather Michael Jackson style jacket in the spring. I remember pieces of a birthday party; my entire family was there and everyone was eating cake and I had just unwrapped a rocket ship with matching action figures and I played with it all night. But maybe my earliest memory is sitting in the back of my dad’s truck, shouting at the kid across the street to come out of his house, only to realize much later, after I’d screamed myself hoarse, that he wasn’t home. I wasn’t allowed to cross the street and I had no idea what a telephone was, let alone how to use it…. so I just screamed.
Little snippets of my memories. I can see fragments and pieces and moments; faces, objects, colors. Looking back through my family photos, I often wish there were more. I wish there was an entire book dedicated to my life. I know it sounds selfish but it would be incredible to remember all the things that I’ve forgotten.
I hear parents say things like, “I want my kids to have all the things I never did”. Truthfully, I think that’s a blanket statement that is mostly untrue BUT I will say this…you will have one thing that I never had… one thing that most people will never have. You have someone documenting your life and creating something of a book from it. When you are 30 years old with a family of your own, you will both look back at these photos with a fondness and appreciation that most people will never, ever get to experience. Your life isn’t The Truman Show, but it’s close.
I came home from work tonight and I dropped down to my hands and knees and started to snarl and you both laughed, turned and started to crawl the opposite direction really, really fast. I took a few steps and snarled again. You both laughed, turned and started to crawl away, really, really fast…… and then it struck me… you were reacting to me. You were playing with me. You were laughing AT ME and you were RUNNING AWAY from me… in a good way, of course. I chased Rory all the way from the middle of the living room, through the dining room, to the back side of the kitchen and watched him scurry onto the dog bed where he threw himself down, giggling, seemingly trying to blend in.
When did this happen? When did you suddenly become so conscious of the world around you? When did you become………. a PERSON? Our two little twin babies….. I don’t want to say they’re gone….. but they’ve puffed up into these little people that cling to your knees and grunt. They intentionally stick their toes in your mouth and giggle and run away from you and try to hide.
You may not remember any of the stuff I’m telling you right now…. but you will. When you’re eight, when you’re ten, when you’re twelve we’ll look at all these photos together and I’ll say, “You were too young to remember but this is when your grandma, mom and I took you to your first Pumpkin Festival and we watched a pig race. We also saw a B-list comic celebrity named Patton Oswald”. I’ll say, “You don’t remember this but Quinn used to dance when we turned on music before she was even old enough to walk”. I’ll say, “You don’t remember this but the first time Rory saw fireworks, he was so scared we had to take him inside. You won’t see any photos of Rory crying….. you just won’t see any photos of Rory. What you WILL see is Quinn being mesmerized”. I’ll say, “This is us at Balboa Park on your mom’s first mother’s day” and “This is us with a meatloaf cake your mom baked on my first Father’s day” and, “This is your first road trip to San Francisco” and “This is your first time on a plane”.
We’ll look at these photos together, flipping through the pages, watching days and weeks and years flip by in moments and your mom will turn to each of you and ask, “What is your earliest memory?” and you’ll look at a thousand photos in front of you and you’ll both try to decide….. which one’s are….. mine….