Last night, I read this on the side of my Starbucks cup:
Childhood is a strange country. It’s a place you come from or go to - at least in your mind. For me it has an endless, spellbound something in it that feels remote. It’s like a little sealed-vault country of cake breath and grass stains where what you do instead of work is spin until you’re dizzy. Lyall Bush, Executive Director of Richard Hugo House, a center for writers and readers
Over the weekend, I had a conversation with my mom about memory. We were standing in my old bedroom and she was showing me the hardwood floors she and my dad had just uncovered. For most of my childhood years, the floor in my bedroom was covered with purple shag carpeting. I told my mom how I remember sliding around on those floors in my stocking feet in the days prior to the purple shag carpet. Occasionally as I slid, I would hit a nail and snag my stocking.
"You couldn't possibly remember that," Mom said. "We put carpeting down in the house when you were 18 months old."
Well, I DO remember it, as clearly as day.
Or do I?
Mom said it didn't happen that way. Is she right? I think I remember seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. I think I remember riding in the back seat of the car and hearing on the radio that Kennedy had been shot. I think I remember these things, but do I really? Or am I blending someone else's childhood with my own to create false memories? Which memories are real and which ones have been patched together from stories I've heard over the years?
Sadly, memory can be a fluid thing. If only those true childhood memories could be sealed and preserved as they really happened. If only childhood really were a country you could visit. I'd leave the grown-up world and go there every single day.
And, if it could be arranged, I might just stay.