I was in Nebraska visiting my folks last week. It’s pretty nice there–at least at my parent’s house. I don’t have to cook, clean, or do much of anything. I just talk, eat all the sweets my mom bakes and keeps in her freezer for company, drink coffee, talk some more, maybe go shopping… Their state motto, “the good life,” is truly applicable for a prodigal daughter. But I don’t remember life in Nebraska being quite so good when I lived there as a teenager.
Memories are individual and often skewed. One person’s memory may be pure fantasy to a sibling. You remember things one way, they remember them another. That is why I have a hard time trusting Memoirs. Looking back on childhood is like walking through a dark tunnel with little spotlights illuminating certain points and times, the rest remaining shadowed.
A naturally optimistic person may remember only happy times when the moon was full and the sun bright. A pessimistic individual might remember the times they were unjustly punished for their brother’s crimes or their mom made hamburger goulash for a month straight because their dad was out of work.
Someone once said, “you can never go back.” Well, you can go back, but it’s usually very disappointing.
Childhood memories are skewed by age, gender, romantic tendencies, etc. The house I lived in when I was a child seemed like a wondrous castle, full of hiding places and scary caves. I returned in my twenties and realized I’d lived in a tiny farmhouse with an unfinished, dirt-walled cellar. I couldn’t believe it was so small and unremarkable. The twelve acres of pasture and fruit trees that seemed to stretch so far in my imagination now appeared nothing more than a quaint hobby farm.
Growing up with just the necessities of life, we never thought of ourselves as poor. We had everything we needed. Television advertisements didn’t play such a huge part back then. Parents met the needs of their children, not the wants.
Sometimes I think it’s best to remember things with the soft edges of shadow. Childhood wouldn’t have the same appeal if we lived it through adult eyes. And when we’re old and gray, the life we live now will seem much smoother, the hills and rocky parts worn away until our memories are warm and fuzzy. Memories enough to take out and share.