Tag Archives: childhood

35 Years in 35 Memories

My parents celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary this weekend. Congratulations! In honor of their many many years of wedded bliss, I thought I would write 35 one-sentence family memories/inside jokes. (Unfortunately, I have no memory of the first five, well maybe eight or nine, years of their marriage, so this is going to have to pick up around 1988.)

(I have not planned this out, so this is an experiment to see if I can get to 35. Here goes.)

(Oh, also, this is going to skip around in time a lot. I’m not doing this chronologically or anything.)

  1. Playing the Un-Game and my mom doing a cartwheel into a potted plant.
  2. Being completely confused the first time my dad shaved off his beard (“Who is that strange guy in the living room?”)
  3. Giggling at hearing my brother singing loudly in the shower…and then the flash of realization that that meant everyone could hear ME sing in the shower, too.
  4. Going camping at Patrick’s Point and seeing giant elk.
  5. Going camping at Gualala and almost getting really lost when we were all on a walk.
  6. Having dinner at the Times Square Olive Garden and my mom getting tipsy on red wine.
  7. Having the whole family together for a surprise 60th birthday party for my dad.
  8. My parents making the drive out to Davis for my very first Picnic Day…and it poured rain the whole time.
  9. Having a family debate about something, and my mom insisted, “Is that each, or apiece?” and then for a moment all four of us stumbled over that.
  10. During cleaning days, learning very quickly not to say in a whiny voice, “What should I do NOW?”
  11. The need to ask my parents every night to check and make sure the toilet seat was down so the cats didn’t fall in. (Cats are probably smarter than that though.)
  12. Getting caught writing love letters to my fifth-grade crush.
  13. They stocked up on delicious snacks (like bottled frappuccinos! very desirable in high school) for me and my friends who were staying over after prom.
  14. Eating sunflower seeds on road trips.
  15. The Oktoberfest at church – games and handmade goods and fall colors and peanut brittle.
  16. One weekend when Drew and I were staying in Lakeport, we had artichokes, and we ate in the living room. We put the bowl for leaves on the floor in the middle of us and we all just threw leaves at it. After dinner there were leaves everywhere. That’s kinda gross, but it was a fun and relaxing evening.
  17. Picking blackberries in the dry creek.
  18. Getting paid a penny per rock we picked up out of the garden – counting up those rocks and then marking them on a chart on the fridge.
  19. Also the “dishes” chart on the fridge – whose turn is it tonight?
  20. Watching Armageddon with my mom and she asked me, “Wait, are you CRYING?” at the end. I think she was making fun of me.
  21. Going caroling with people from church.
  22. Going to see The Phantom of the Opera in San Francisco for Christmas…just because I loved it so much.
  23. At camp, when they were in charge, they would always put me in the “good” girls cabin. (It really was better.)
  24. Also at camp, pulling off the “Chez Rubber Soul” mornings: servers, menus, and line order breakfast for all the campers and counselors.
  25. Helping my mom teach summer school.
  26. Hanging out in my dad’s classroom after school, and playing Lode Runner and Nintendo.
  27. Easter morning sunrise services: a lesson in dressing in layers.
  28. Building a (short-lived) treehouse in the back yard.
  29. Measuring the height of the water on the back step, and keeping an hourly chart, each year when it flooded. I used to get so disappointed when it started receding.
  30. Speaking of floods, parking down the street and wading home in rainboots was fun.
  31. So was sitting by the wood stove after a bath while my mom brushed my hair. It used to be really long.
  32. We had heating vents in our rooms, but we never used them – but sometimes I liked to turn it on, because the smell was so novel. I think it might have been a vaguely gas-stove smell? I liked it. It made me feel cozy.
  33. Calling my parents at 2:00 am to tell them they had a grandson. (“Okay, that’s it, see you tomorrow!”)
  34. Walking to the farmer’s market down the street from our house.
  35. Every time they come visit, they have more photos they took of things B would like: pigeons, dogs, recycling bins, signs, etc. I like that they do that.

I know an anniversary is kind of just between the two people celebrating, but I wanted to point out all the good things that have come out of their 35 years of marriage. I for one am very grateful they got together and are still together.

You guys are good role models and great parents! I love you very much!

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Filed under Awesome, Family, Love, Memoir, Parents, Sentiment

(A room that is important to you)

In the notes section of my phone, there is a list of writing prompts. The third prompt is “A room that is important to you.”

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My parents have a hot tub. The hot tub is just the latest item in a long list of reminders that I don’t live at home anymore.

How could they go from normal parents one day, to hot-tub-owning parents the next?

“But where is it?” I ask my mom over the phone.

“On the deck,” she says.

“What deck?”

“Oh yeah. We added a deck, too,” she says. Her tone is so casual, like she doesn’t realize she’s telling me about major home renovations. “You guys should come visit. You can sit in the hot tub.”

While it sounds amazing, especially now that California is having some actual winter weather, I can’t quite get used to that whole hot tub thing. I mean, I still feel homesick for the way our house was when I was a child – eight and ten and fourteen years old. It hasn’t been like that for almost half my lifetime.

I knew everything was different when I went to college. Not my freshman year, so much, when I still came home all the time and most of my stuff was still up on my bedroom walls. But once I started living in apartments, and my room at home started becoming storage, it was a slippery slope to “I don’t live here at all anymore.”

Probably moving to New York right after college had something to do with that. I didn’t go home that summer, except for a week or so before we got on a plane from SFO to JFK, in mid-August. And then I was gone for three years and the transition became even more complete.

I’ve been back in California for four and a half years. I have never in that time moved back home, and where would I have lived if I had? On the futon couch in the living room, probably. Despite multiple passings-off of my childhood stuff from my parents to me, there is still, inexplicably, more of my stuff in my bedroom, although it becomes more and more hidden among things that aren’t mine. My stuffed animals stick it out, though, sitting on a shelf above the bay window, covered in dust and, I’m positive, spiders. Every time someone suggests I go through them, I shiver and say I will as soon as they’ve all been run through the dryer or something.

The same thing happened to Drew. His room became an office, although his parents had to wait until we came back from New York and essentially stole all his bedroom furniture. But he and I are both in the same position of peeking into our childhood bedrooms and remembering them in a totally different way than they are now.

A few years ago, (after the my-bedroom transition but before the deck and hot tub,) my parents added a bathroom and walk-in closet onto their bedroom. Growing up it was always a point of contention/argument/self-righteousness (depending on one’s mood at the time) that our house only had one bathroom. But after the kids were out and it didn’t matter anymore, they fixed that. It’s good for resale, I guess, but I don’t even want to start thinking about that house being sold to strangers. It’s cool to see the addition, and cool that it happened, and surreal that there’s a whole add-on to the back of the house that wasn’t there when I was growing up.

I guess in a twisted way, that’s the room that is important to me. Because the addition, followed soon after by the deck and the hot tub, is something that I had no part in, I didn’t help at all with the planning, in fact I didn’t even have an idea something was up until it was already going down. And that just means that I definitely, unquestionably, 100% don’t live there anymore. The addition changed my childhood home in a way that putting in hardwood floors, moving the furniture around, and storing all the craft stuff on shelves in my old room does not.

Most of the time this doesn’t bother me too much. If my childhood home isn’t the same, well…neither am I, certainly. And it’s not like I want to stay in one place and never grow or change or move away.

But I’ve gotten so good at writing things down and journaling and documenting and taking photos – I wish I had been better at that at ages eight, ten, fourteen, eighteen. I wish I could remember more about all those summers spent at camp, or my 8th grade graduation dance, or some random trip my friends and I took to Cupertino my freshman year of college. (What the heck were we doing in Cupertino??) My memories of childhood are fuzzy. When I try to remember, I just end up picturing myself now, but like, wearing t-shirts with cat pictures and drawing with chalk pastels and making mix tapes.

On second thought, maybe the 90s are just not an inspiring time to keep constantly at the forefront of your mind. Maybe it’s good enough to know we made it through them unscathed.

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Filed under Being a girl, Children, Dreams, Endings, Family, Fashion, Home improvements, Humor, Love, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sentiment, Writing

Inspiration

Late at night is when I get my bursts of inspiration for cleaning. Tonight I went through two boxes of stuff my parents gifted me with months ago…and pared it down to the throwaways, the donatables, and the keepsies.

Example throwaway: notebooks from college classes filled with notes about the Puritans and protest theatre. (Two different classes.) Nothing really of note to keep here. Although Drew pointed out my copious margin notes: “Syche + Drew” and then one page where I apparently decided to practice signing my first name with his last name. As we pondered this, I said, “Whoops!” and he said “GAWD, you’re obsessed with me or something.”

Example donatable: Pretty tin box, that I remember always having, but don’t have any specific attachment to, and which I will be much happier giving away than moving two more times.

Example keepsie: A diary I kept around the time I was 5 and 6. My bffk (best friend for kindergarten) (well, sort of…I mean I guess she was my best girl friend, but I’d still say my two best bffks were boys) actually went through and wrote “I love Kelly” on most of the pages (she’s Kelly), but some of the pages still have my original journal entries. I present you with two of them:

If I'm being completely honest, these are still my top three fears.

And from later…I would say around 4th or 5th grade:

B) and C) don't really matter. Amirite, girls?

That being said, today I tried out a set of hot rollers that a friend gave me, and they worked great! And I spent much time looking in the mirror and admiring my pretty hair, and taking pictures of myself. So don’t worry about me, I’ve got plenty of self-confidence now. A generous amount. Maybe even too much?

Ah, the joys of being a girl. :/

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Filed under Being a girl, Drew, Memoir, My name, Sentiment