Friday, March 30, 2007

What I Remember

To me it seems like a lot of my childhood is a division of two parts. Pre and post divorce. My parents' that is. My memories from my youth are all very happy. Surrounded by a wonderful family, supportive parents, great childhood friends, and grandparents that spoiled me. To say that I had a great childhood would be an enormous understatement.

Although my parents divorced when I was six, I don't hold one single bad memory of their marriage. I don't hold any memories of it. Their marriage. At all. I cannot remember a time when the three of us were together, when they were actually married.

I don't remember anything, pre divorce. I remember the house we lived in, the three of us, and my friend who lived next door with a pool. I remember my childhood bedroom, and the cardboard ice cream stand that i would play in every day. I remember this little camera that I had that I thought was the coolest thing in the world. I remember what the house looked like, the rooms and a lot of how they were decorated.
But if you ask me to tell you my first memory of my family, together, the three of us, them married, us a traditional family, I could not do it. And that sometimes makes me sad.

Post divorce, many memories are very vivid. I remember my mom living with my grandparents shortly after it happened. I remember her and I sharing a bedroom, each of us in twin beds. I remember my dad moving to a new house. Wednesday nights with him, early Thursday mornings driving back to my mother's. Weeks shared, divided, back and forth, to each house. Car rides with my dad, to my mom's. Friday and Saturday nights at my dad's, driving to my mom's at 12pm on the dot each Sunday. Shared holidays. Christmas Eve's at my dad's, late Christmas morning going to my mom's. Thanksgiving one year at my mom's, the next with my dad.

I remember specific times with each parent, post divorce. I remember one Easter, taking a walk with my mom. I was in new patent leather shoes and an Easter hat. She was in a dress; I'm pretty sure. I remember that day, in my grandparent's neighborhood. I can feel the spring weather on my skin right now, the breeze in my hair. I can smell the grass, and see the pavement with the many cracks that I tried to avoid. I remember taking that walk together, my mom and I, before it was time to go to my dad's for the remainder of the holiday. All of this is so very vivid.

With my dad, I remember a specific time of us driving in the car, and O was upset, at something. Probably something silly and little, but that seemed like the hugest deal to the ten year old me. Life is a Highway was my favorite song at the time, and I remember that song coming on the radio and my dad trying to cheer me up, raising the volume and saying, "it's your favorite song!" I remember being angry. Not caring, or eat least trying to seem like I didn't. And getting teary. I remember trying to not enjoy the song because I was trying to appear angry with him, but wanting to sing anyway.

The pre divorce years, and how I cannot remember them, makes me sad when I really think about it. I try and try to just remember, just a spec of an ounce of something with the three of us, pre divorce. Us three at dinner, a holiday together, a car ride. Try as I might, I just can't seem to get a visual. I can totally imagine, conjure up an image in my mind of what it must have been like. But the real thing, I just can't place it. Freudians would eat this up. Analyze how I must have had some awful childhood, that I'm trying to repress something. That my id, ego, and superego are working to help me rationalize something. Protect me.

But that couldn't be further from the truth. It was never bad. Not at all, in any way. I don't remember any fighting, no yelling, no arguments. I don't remember any tears, no bad times at all. I don't remember much of anything. Pre divorce.

Post divorce I remember so much. The smell in my dad's new house. My mom's new apartment after she moved out of her parent's house. How when I was younger, right after the divorce, my dad would lay out an outfit for me on a Thursday morning. socks, underwear, pants, and a shirt. I'd put these clothes on, eat some breakfast, and we'd go to my mom's. I remember getting there, and finding an outfit. Laid out. On my bed, for me. From my mom. The same thing. Socks. Underwear. Pants. And a shirt.

I remember wearing two pairs of underwear to school because I felt guilty not. To choose just one pair, would be to pick between my dad and mom. And how could I possibly choose, between the two? I couldn't. I wouldn't and I didn't.

Soon after, i didn't have to. I imagine I must have told my mom one time about how I did this, the underwear thing. And I imagine she must have had a talk with my dad, because thereafter, the double outfit thing was no longer an issue. I will always remember this. My mom and I joke about it to this day, yet thinking about it sometimes makes me sad. Of me as a little girl, not wanting to choose.

I still don't want to choose. Now I don't have to. I am an adult now. My father lives on the West Coast, my mom here in the same state as me. Holidays are no longer split between two parents. No more running around, back and forth, car rides to and from their houses on the same day. No more choosing who I will stay with for Christmas Eve. No more leaving a holiday dinner early to go to the other families house. I am who I am today because of my childhood. I don't look back with any regrets. I had a great childhood, and if the tone of this seems melancholy that's not all it should be. I feel sad for the memories that I cannot produce, but I feel utterly filled with appreciation for the ones I have. I would not change a thing of my childhood if I could. I have an amazing relationship with both of my parents, which I believe is somewhat directly related to the individual time I was afforded with both of them given the circumstances.

I have a picture in a safe place. It's of my mom and my dad on their wedding day. I am wearing a diamond necklace today. It was given to me by my mom two Christmas' ago. It is a gorgeous piece of jewelry. But it's so much more than just that. The necklace was made from the diamond that my father gave to my mother when he proposed to her. Her engagement ring. Something that they shared, just the two of them, is now mine. This is one of the most treasured things I own. So special to me and so meaningful. a little piece of both of them that I can always carry around with me.


Aaron said...

Well, it's a good thing you decided to wear two pair of panties than none at all! :P

I've seen my parents go through some tough times when I was a kid and they always managed to pull it together. I believe they're closer now than they've ever been. I hope I'll be as blessed...

Joy said...

Brooke, I remember nothing before age 11...I hear ya.

Airam said...

Beautifully written. And that necklace ... I'm so happy that it's you who has it.

And I don't remember anything before 5.

brooke alexandra said...

Your writing is beautiful in this post. I love looking back on my childhood and remembering little events, conversations, and trips. I actually have quite a memory of my childhood. I consider myself very lucky.

Trixie said...

i have memories of when i think i was 4 or 5 yrs old on family vacations, christmas, etc. and they are vivid. not a lot, maybe 3-4 specific memories only.

i like the part about the necklace... that is something truly special, not only because of the jewelry, but what it represents.

Ally said...

I love that Tom Cochrane song. I have such fond memories of singing along to it with my best friend.

My parents divorced when I was in 3rd grade, and I have almost no memories before that of our family. I think what few memories I do have may actually be stories I created from looking at photographs:)

brandy said...

I loved this. Excellent post, and I can completely relate to so much of it. I linked to it in a post I wrote, cool?

Thomas said...

I am with Airam. Early memories are a problem. Maybe my early life was unmemorable.

brookem said...

aaron- that's great that your parents have the relationship they do.

joy- it's not just me!

airam- thank you so much.

brooke- sounds very sweet, your memories

trixie- i hear ya. i have some memories that come to me like a little flash or almost dejavu type feeling.

ally- i totally know what you mean with the pictures! it's fun doing that.

brandy- wicked cool, and thank you.

kris said...

The double underwear-ing is so telling about what a diffifult experience this was for you . . . no matter how funny it is to think about now! I love how clearly these things manifest in us when we're younger. If only things were so "visible" when we're older.

Beautiful post.

dionna said...

I've blocked out a lot of my childhood, and it distresses me a lot. It also makes me cherish the few memories I do have, though.
I'm so glad you have that necklace - what a treasure!

Anonymous said...

How thoughtful of your mom to get the necklace made for you! Very well written post!

Anonymous said...

This post made my eyes tear up... Very well written... I'm going to stop by often now.