If I could go back in time, purely to witness (not to meddle in) my own past ...
Here are some moments I'd want to watch unfold.
- •The day my parents brought me home from the hospital.What did my 14- and 18-year-old siblings say and do? How did my 45- and 52-year-old parents manage fatigue and disruption in a very established routine?
- •My first day of kindergarten.I feel like I remember it ... but do I really? How much of that memory is real, and how much is invented from photos I've seen and stories I've heard? Was it raining? Who sat with me on the bus? Was I shy? Did I make friends on day one? What did I talk about that night at supper?
- •The day I passed out trying to run 600 meters in gym class.No one had yet diagnosed my asthma. I remember a cold, unsympathetic scene, with a whistle-wearing teacher and nosy students standing over me as I came to, far out in the field behind the elementary school. They accused me of faking, of dropping to the ground to get attention and avoid finishing the run. I had ALL the attention and ZERO assistance getting back to the gym. Were they really so cruel?
- •The day we watched my childhood home burn to the ground, on purpose.We sold the farm to a large ag company, for use as a proving ground. I was about 12. I distinctly remember sitting on the hood of the family car, watching the house burn, into the night. How late did we stay? Did my parents cry? Did neighbors surround us? I don't recall any conversation whatsoever. Did we really drive home (to our "other place" a few miles away) in silence?
- •The day I yelled at my favorite teacher after school—and the day after.I was a high school senior. He was my speech team coach. I needed to leave practice to help my mom with my dad, who had serious health issues and couldn't be left unattended. I had finished my practice and tried to leave discretely. Someone told him, I guess. He yelled at me from down the hall—loudly and in front of the team—reprimanding me for not giving my all. I let go a full-on tirade about how he had no idea what I was facing—what I was giving—at home. I left. But what happened next?
- •The day I left for college.I'm pretty sure I loaded up my Chevette and made the trip alone, because Mom couldn't leave Dad. I was due at school a few days before classes began, for honors orientation. My roommate wouldn't arrive for several days. Did I really make that transition all by myself? How did I get all my stuff to my room? Surely someone helped. Right? I have no idea.
- •The day each of my kids was born.Of course I want to revisit those life-changing days. I want to see their tiny selves make their arrivals, and I want to witness my own courage and strength in the face of so much physical pain, so much overwhelming joy, so much crazy unknown.
- •The day my son learned to ski.The first day I took him out on the mountain, he got so frustrated. So much falling and getting up again! At age five, he tried to be a good sport. But he was relieved when the day was over. And the next day he opted to go sledding instead. I figured we were done with skis—maybe for a long time. But the next morning he begged me to take him back up the mountain. "I had a dream. I know what to do now." He did! We skied all day, and he didn't fall once. How did he do it?!
- •The day Jim moved in, and we merged two households—two families—into one.Though this happened less than a decade ago, I barely remember the day. We must have worked so hard. I know the kids were with their other parents, our former spouses. Beyond that, was it just the two of us? We must have had a mover, but I can't recall any specifics of the process. How did we hold up to the stress? Did we have pizza and wine at the end of the day?