I try to create moments that can be easily forgotten.
I remember the moment my parents told us they were getting a divorce. I was sitting on the fold out bed in the den watching The Brady Bunch. I cut my finger with the scissors and walked downstairs to get the news from my parents sitting calmly at the kitchen table. I remember sitting at my godmother’s kitchen table when my mom called to tell her my grandfather had died. My godmother kept the secret and curled my hair with real hot curlers. I remember driving to my sewing class, my silly freaking how-to-sew-a-skirt class, on November 30th and getting a call from my aunt telling me my dad was getting worse. I remember threading my sewing machine and getting the second call telling me he wouldn’t make it through the night. I got the third calling asking me if I wanted to say anything to him before he died. I was in the bathroom trying on my new creation when I got the fourth call telling me he had died. Suzanne helped me pack up my bags and she followed me home to make sure I was ok. I want all of these moments to disappear. If I shake my head fast enough maybe the hands on the clock will turn and I’ll be back to the moments that I don’t quite remember. The moments that are not quite significant.
And I find I do the same thing as a parent. I remember laughing with the kids yesterday as we drove home from an ice cream treat. We were laughing at something crazy that Ethan said. But I don’t remember what he said. I don’t remember what caused all six of us to crack up. But I do remember the moment on Saturday when Gigs, my kindhearted and desperately good little girl, dropped a small bottle of my new Jo Malone perfume on the tile floor of my bathroom. I remember I asked her fearfully if it had broken and she said yes. I was gruff and told her to move away from the broken glass with her barefeet and she stomped off because my girl is so in tune with other people that she knew I was mad that she had dropped it and not just trying to protect her feet from the glass. I remember how I felt when I dropped and broke a jar of Welch’s Concord Grape Jelly at a friend’s house when I was in first grade and I don’t want Gigs to still remember dropping my perfume when she’s 41 years old.
But it’s the happy moments that I want to remember every detail of. I want to remember what made me laugh and what the boys said to Gigs and Eva in the car this morning on the way to camp to make them laugh so hard I thought they might pee in their pants. I don’t remember the details of moments like that. But I memorize the feeling they leave me with. That glowing, happy all over, life is good kind of feeling. And maybe that’s why I remember the details of the bad moments because I don’t want to remember the feelings. If I can remember the cut on my finger, I don’t have to remember the pain of the words that followed. If I can yell about the shards of glass on the floor, I can deflect my anger over the lost perfume and hide a moment of bad parenting I’d rather forget. If I can focus on the sewing class and not the gut wrenching pain I felt as my dad left me, it makes it all seem a little bit more tolerable.
So I find myself walking through this life creating and looking for moments that won’t be pivotal. Moments that will get lost in the ordinariness of the day, week or month. But in my writing, all I can do it seems over and over again, is look at those moments, those big and little unforgettable moments that rush to define a day, a week, a month or a lifetime.