Will They Remember?

Last night, after a long day of work, guitar lesson, a cereal dinner on the run, followed by 2+ hours of lacrosse, followed by homework...I was exhausted.  Not to mention, I had decided to do a particularly grueling "ab shredder" workout and quite possibly damaged an ovary and I was in pain.  After reading with them and getting the younger two in bed, it was Will's turn.  As "I'll be up in a minute and you better be ready for bed" seems to be a foreign language for my children (when I went upstairs he was rearranging his bedside table), I laid down in his bed for a few minutes while he completed his bedtime tasks.  Staring up at the ceiling, feeling the breeze from his window, I looked around and I realized...

...I'd never seen his room like this before.

A firm believer in having your own space, and the freedom to make it yours (with some limits, of course) I am rarely in his room other than to tuck him in (he still says "say me good night-night -- how cute is that?) or deliver his laundry.  So it was strange to put myself in his position for a few minutes to catch a new perspective.

This is the room he's grown up in.  This is the room he'll remember -- remember playing in, studying in, dreaming in.  Will he remember every detail of the ceiling, like all the little stars his mother so painstakingly applied there, or the parts where her not-so-expertly-applied planets fell and ripped off a little of the drywall?  Will he remember the way the light spilled in from the street, or the way the air felt on  his face?  And what else will he remember?  Will he remember his nerves at starting middle school, the sting of being grounded for breaking a rule?  Will he remember the way he feels laying there after the cute girl says hi?  Or the way he felt when he lost the big game?  Will he cry secret tears there, or practice conversations with the shadows?  Will he remember how he tried to figure out his life in the quiet comfort of the darkness?  The thoughts and feelings you can ONLY have to yourself, all alone, in your room?

All of them -- Will, Tate, Meems -- will they remember these things?

I think, from my own childhood, my most powerful memories are not tied just to the house I grew up in, but the room where I spent most of my time.  I remember my red bedspread and every crack in the ceiling of the room my sister and I shared.  I remember every creak of the settling house and the sleepy sounds my sister made.  I remember the way the light spilled in, and the way the birds sang, and the sound of the cars in the street.  I remember the shadows on the walls, and the way the air felt and smelled when it came in through the windows.  I remember dance contests, and teaching my sister to tie her shoes there.  I remember us putting our tights on our heads when we were supposed to be changing out of church clothes, and making hairdos with the "long" hair.  I did my homework there, I pouted there and I learned to apply makeup there.  Sound familiar?  Those memories anchor me.  They are my childhood.  I did most of my thinking, and feeling, and dreaming in that room.  I remember the thrill of sleeping somewhere new when we moved the furniture around.  I remember sitting in the window, staring outside and feeling sad, or happy, or hopeful, or scared.  I do remember reliving the sting of a punishment, the disappointment of losing, the thrill of a boy's attention there.  I remember trying to figure out my life in that room.  My place to absorb and digest what it means to grow up.

The truth is, I discovered a lot about myself in that room.  That room, in its way, helped me become who I am.

I hope my own children have those memories.  I hope that, after 25 years of not being there, they are as vivid for them as if they happened only yesterday, as they are for me.

Will they remember?


carrie said…
You forgot a few memories:
- listening to the same song (title escapes me at the moment) OVER and OVER while your sister practices for cheerleading tryouts

- "crush" posters on the inside of our closet - some in better condition than others (sorry!)

- "fishing" with our batons and string in the space in between our beds

- being fearful to let your legs hang over the side of the bed for something underneath to pull you right under

- planning outfits for that first day of weather that Mom considered it warm enough to wear shorts

- teaching your sister to dance (and LORDY did she need it!)

- listening to Mom read us, "Are You There God, It's Me Margaret" and other titles we will too soon share with our own daughters

sooo many more...
I almost included the "fishing." As if our boats would ever float, side by side, on the open sea. While we chatted. I remember teaching you to dance, and the posters, although I don't remember what you did to mine. Rob Lowe? I still love him. Yes on the outfits (along with the first day of school) and "Are you there, God..." And your trumpet. You were always so diligent about practicing when I had exams. Remember when we tried to separate the room with tape?
mom said…
I remember the "tape" incident which (unfortunately) didn't work; reading to both of you; that heinous red flowered wallpaper; the quilts your grandmother made for you; the "little mouse collection on the wall and the Madame Alexander dolls on the shelf; the arguments and terrible, awful names you screamed at each other; not being able to wear your sister's outfit because she wore it last week and someone might remember at school ..geeshh.
I would have loved to have been one of those heinous red flowers on the wall so that I could listen to all the "memories" that were made between you sisters. It's really nice to be able to read about some of them. Thanks!
Will said…
Wow. Incredible writing, Jennifer. I dream often about my room growing up in Pulaski. It is so real and vivid. I've never really thought about it that deeply. Thank you.
Christy said…
That was a lovely post, Jen. Thanks for sharing!

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