Some things are better off forgotten We bury them in places that we really only visit by ourselves...--Stone Sour
One of my Facebook friends posted this as her status earlier today and it really struck a chord with me. It is the opening line of the song, Imperfect by Stone Sour. Everybody has skeletons in their closet, that's no secret. It's the part about only visiting by ourselves that I found compelling. This past week, for some reason, has brought forth a flood of old memories and experience, some wonderful and some that I have had to process.
My sister is still in Salem. She is in the hospital and is committed for 180 day. This is a relief. She will be there for my son's birthday, so I will be able to enjoy the day, knowing that she is safe and supervised. She will also be there while my parents take their trek through Nepal, so they will be able to enjoy that experience. David and I met in the midst of my sister's first hospitalization and he has never known her not to be ill. His family has never known her or me either, without the chaos that accompanies a family who has a member that is mentally ill. Tonight as we were out walking the dog, we heard the marching band practicing. When my sister was a freshman and sophomore she was very active in band and my parents followed her around chaperoning her and her band buddies. Every night our home would be filled with the saxophone part of the band songs as she diligently practiced. She loved that sax and the band. In some ways, I wish I could forget the memories of who she was before she was overcome with this ugly illness. I miss the energetic, giggly blond girl who would bounce from band to sports to dance with such energy and zest all while maintaining impeccable grades and working toward her life long dream of being a pediatrician. Those memories are buried and and at times all I feel I have left. I visit those memories as I watch the band practice and when I hear a saxophone. While David observed and relived his band days, laughing at the two guys hamming it up with their clarinets, I visited the memory of my sister.
I am back in the town I grew up in and swore I would never return to. When I left in January 2003, I left a lot of wounds open and a lot of feelings and memories un-dealt with. In late 2004, when I was attending Eastern Washington University, I went to a hockey game with some of my new college friends. A friend of my friend poked me half way through the game and asked me if I knew the girls a few rows back from us. Sure enough, it was two girls who were part of the popular crowd at my high school. Nicole and Sarah. I had maybe interacted with both of them a grand total of three or four times in my life. She wanted to know if I knew them because they kept pointing at me and talking about me. I immediately left and waited in the lobby for the remainder of the game. When we got home I locked myself in my room and cried. I hated thinking about those days of high school and elementary and middle school. Back then, the memories were too painful to visit. Now, I see people from growing up around town, and sometimes, it throws me. Sometimes, I find myself feeling insecure and upset. I want to go home and drown myself in food to try to stuff down the emotions and memories. But other times, I surprise myself when the reaction is positive. A happy memory or a kind interaction. Two Sunday mornings ago, I was at Safeway wearing an old sweatshirt, yoga pants, flip-flops and no make-up with my hair back in a ratty ponytail. I was quite the sight to behold, but I was grocery shopping alone (!). I saw one of the girls from the hockey game by the deli counter. I threw the bagels in to my basket and put my head down. Immediately I started thinking of a comeback or a look I could give for what I was sure was about to come my way. I had been dreading this since we moved here and now it was happening. I bit my lip and started to push my cart. But instead, as we passed, we gave each other half smiles and kept walking. Maybe it's parenting, or maybe it's just growing up, but up until that moment, as odd as it sounds, it had never occurred to me that maybe other people were softening. Trying to become kinder and wiser, or simply had been in the trenches of parenting and understood that it can be a victory in itself just to get out of the house some days and could be empathetic. So maybe it's time for me to do my best to let some things be forgotten.
And...not to drone on, but I think one of the greatest parts of being a parent is getting to share your memories and favorite experiences from your childhood with your children. I love singing songs with R in the bathtub and Dave loves cooking him a huge breakfast on Saturday morning. Dave and I laugh sometimes when we each have "ah-ha" moments when we realize that memories and traditions we have were not the norm in other families. This past weekend we took Ri to the Chelan County Fair. Growing up, the fair was a a huge deal. We would go with our classes during the week and then as a family on the weekend. It was one of the few times a year when all bets were off. My dad would ride the rides with us and hand over dollar bill after dollar bill as we tried to win goldfish and other prizes. We would always get treats. My sister and I would indulge on cotton candy, curly fries, corn dogs, caramel apples, apple pie, chocolate dipped ice cream bars and frozen lemonade. We would run around the livestock barns, looking at the animals and begging my parents to let us get a rabbit or a pygmy goat as a pet so we could show it in the fair the following year. (They never indulged us with that one.) This year, Riley rode in his stroller as we walked him through the livestock barns. He felt a little intimidated by the animals and their enormous size in proportion to him, but loved walking through the carnival. We ate corn on the cob on a stick and he ran around chasing after a balloon from a vendor. After three and a half hours, he cried and had his public melt-down when we told him it was time to go. I'm not sure if he'll remember the day, but I hope I can help create some memories that he will visit fondly.