My family is really good at telling stories. We like to laugh, we embellish just enough, and most importantly, all of those folks that are, in fact, my elders, have lived lives that are worth hearing about. In sharing terrifically embarrassing stories with my family, I’ve learned to laugh with them at the small things, a little humility, and the lesson of not seeking insanity by continually making the same mistake in the vain hope of different results. When the laughter quiets down and the dishes are on the way to the sink, something I have always always loved is the stories about their childhoods, and particularly about young married life, being that I’m leading something of a young married life myself. Last summer when Drew and I were at the beach with his family, we drove to Pensacola and found the first house that Jo Ellen lived in after getting married. She hadn’t been on the street since they had moved nearly 26 or 27 years ago and from her seat talked about being a young mother with baby Ashley strapped into the back of her bike and just riding all over the area every day because she and Drew’s father only had one car. Similarly, my Mom shared a story with me recently of being a 25 year old with my brother as a baby and riding her bike over to her mother’s house for lunch on a regular basis in 1973. These are both simple memories, but when I hear them, I am overcome thinking, in this instance, of these two young women with their lives happening around them and realizing that someday I too will be reminiscing about those early years when Drew was in school I worked for a newspaper. We lived on a shady street and planted a teeny tiny garden and went to concerts in the rain and drove out on the weekends to eat with my parents and watched Little League games on our walks with Grace, our first dog. We learned about baby bokchoy and lived in a house next to a stream with a dying black walnut shading our house and mice living behind the stove. We moved with a horse trailer and picked up a couch from one of Drew’s professors in the rain. There are big stories, but the kind I like hearing about best are the ones that just kind of happened, because silly as it sounds, it makes the possibility that my parents and aunts and uncles etc were actually there, breathing in their lives, not just stuck in a picture album in funny clothes (sorry guys).
In our wedding vows, we were asked a series of questions–will you make him/her angry/happy…is that your intention etc. I love that from the beginning we have been honest with each other about the work that is all of this memory making, and I love that the memories already seem like a good little story, at least to me.