Memories to be Shared

Quotes that I printed off of Facebook…meaningful song lyrics…predictions for the future from fortune cookies…These are a few of the types of things I have adhered to the pages of my “smash book”. I love collecting little mementos from places, events, and times in my life that are special. In fact, ever since I was in the 8th grade I have been writing down important happenings in my life in a journal. I rapidly filled the pages of journal after journal, filling 2 or 3 books each year, sometimes more, especially during high school when I was filled with the dreaded teen angst. Now that I’m in my 30s, I have been writing in the same journal for the past 3 years, with it not being filled up even halfway yet. My writing has slowed, I don’t have problems with boys anymore that I feel the need to write about and most of the issues I have that are related to being an adult, I can solve by talking to my husband who is good at listening and giving advice. I will never stop writing though. While I don’t often sit and write lengthy entries anymore, I have been keeping up with a 5-year journal in which I have only five lines to describe my day. This limits me to write about only what is the most important about each day that I want to remember. Sometimes there’s nothing exciting or memorable about my day, but I do enjoy looking at each page and seeing what I wrote on the same page the years before. I have a year and a half left before that one is filled. Journals, this smash book, scrapbooks with photos that tell stories, my wedding album with handwritten narration of each page of pictures…I think I might be obsessed with documenting my life. Why do I do it? What compells me to continue to record my thoughts and feelings or my day-to-day activities?

In the beginning, writing in my journal was therapeutic. I wrote because it made me feel better when I was done. Now I realize that I am continuing to write and document, partly because I’m so used to doing it that it feels natural, but more importantly, I’m creating my legacy. Every single journal, beginning with #1 that is dated with some date in January of 1995, is stored securely in a trunk in my closet. I am certain that when I’m no longer on this earth, I want my grandchildren to read my journals. I want them to know what was important to me. I want them to take meaning and inspiration and hope from my words. When I was young, I don’t know how many times I flipped through the pages of my parent’s wedding album and asked my mom questions about the pictures and just genuinely enjoyed looking into the past, at a time before I was born when my parents were united as husband and wife. I want my children to do the same. If I’m not around to tell the story of our wedding day, they will be able to read my words, in my own handwriting and know what I thought about that day and what was special to their father and me. This smash book is the same. One day, I want them to pull it off the shelf when they’re bored (because yes, I want my children to not be so busy all the time like my niece and nephews are with sports and other activities. I want them to know what it means to be bored! And have to be creative to entertain themselves!) I want them to be bored and pull my smash book off the shelf and flip the pages and muse over the things their mother stuck in the book and thought was important to keep.

smash book

Pope Francis may not be the pope when they’re flipping through the pages, but they’ll know that he was the pope in “my day”.

The feeling of wanting to share my life with my future children was never so strong as the other day when I was cleaning off my dresser and organizing my jewelry into velvet covered trays. I was throwing away some things and came across a necklace. It was a glass fish with water inside of it. Floating in the water was a grain of rice with my name written on it. My mom bought one for my sisters and I the weekend we celebrated my sweet 16th birthday in the mountains at a craft festival my parents were participating in. I’ve held onto that necklace all these years and I almost threw it away, thinking I’ll never wear that again. But I kept it, and placed it in the tray for safekeeping, knowing that one day, I’m going to have a daughter who’s going to go through my jewelry box (again, when she’s bored–did I mention that my kids are going to be bored?) and she’s going to see that necklace and ask me about it. I’ll tell her all about the incredible sweet 16 birthday surprise that my family orchestrated and how I came to have that necklace. Of course I’ll let her have it when she asks. I nearly shed some tears thinking about a moment that may or may not happen. After all, I might be blessed with boys when we’re finally ready to begin our family. Or it might be that we can’t have children at all. We’ll look into adoption, as we’ve discussed, but these future events may not happen this way. They might not happen at all. But it won’t stop me from collecting odds and ends, from writing down the events of the day, and reflecting on a life that is uniquely my own.

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The Destroyer

Sometimes I think that I annoy my school-age niece and nephews with talk of school. I try not to pester them about it. The teacher in me will not, however, let me stay silent on the subject. I especially couldn’t stay silent this past Friday when my family and I took a trip to a popular amusement park.

While waiting for the second half of our convoy to get started on the journey to the park, my sister decided we should stop for breakfast and give everybody else a chance to catch up to us. As my brother in law navigated the parking lot towards a local Denny’s restaurant, my nephew’s friend, who I was squished into the backseat with, began to question the spelling of the popular eating establishment. He wanted to know why it wasn’t spelled Dennies. I explained to him the difference between the possessive nature of Denny’s, versus the plural nature of Dennies. This did not sit well with the young man. He started to argue with my explanation. At this point, my nephew interrupted and said, “Dude, she’s a teacher, she’ll destroy you.” I don’t care how many accolades I receive from my principal or parents of students…nothing will make me feel more validated in what I do than hearing that from my oldest nephew.

A Teacher’s Summer (Part 2)

Within every summer vacation, there will always be time to travel. Usually, when it comes to time together with my husband, this will mean a day trip to the beach every couple of weeks. As of this point in my break, we have not been to the beach once. Shark attacks and an oppressive heat wave kept us away on the one day that we had planned to make the 2-hour drive to the coast. Though we did not make that trip, we did spend an incredible 3 days in the mountains recently. Incredible can imply many things, and in the case of our camping trip to the highest point east of the Mississippi River, incredible does not mean ideal. Temperatures in the 50s during the day and surely colder temperatures at night was not exactly what we were expecting. We knew it would be cooler the higher in the mountains we stayed, but the cold and the constant wind and mist kept us chilled to the bone nearly the whole time.

Despite not bringing adequate clothing with which to keep warm, and having to wear the same single pair of pants and long sleeve shirt for nearly all 3 days without the benefit of a hot shower at the campground, I would not have changed a thing. The gorgeous mountaintop view we were hoping for was only visible on the ride up the mountain on the first day before the thunderstorm brought the cold front and cloudy mist. The view was also clearer as we descended on our last day. But despite not having a picturesque view at all times, it was truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

There are two events from the trip that will remain etched into my memory forever. The first occured at 3 am on our first night. The ferocity of the wind constantly whipping at what seemed like a hurricane force against our tent did not allow for either of us to sleep very well. Every time I dozed a little, I would open my eyes and hope to see the sun beginning to peek through the top of the tent. When it repeatedly didn’t happen, I soon discovered that I wouldn’t make it to daybreak without first leaving the tent and making the short trek up the hill to the bathrooms. My husband insisted on escorting me, so with our headlamps on we braved the elements and made a trip to the bathroom. The light from our lamps got lost in the mist that engulfed us as we slowly made our way to and from the bathrooms. We had to move slowly so we wouldn’t slip on the wet ground. Huddled together as we walked, it was the most eerie sensation, having the wind beat against us and raindrops pelting us as they blew from the tree branches. Clouds of mist could be seen rolling past us in the dimly lit darkness. Sleep eventually did come that night, and even the second night, though the wind blew even harder that night.

night mist (This photo was taken the first night, before we sought refuge in our tent for the night.)

During our second day on the mountain, we walked a short distance down one of the many mapped hiking trails. With a brand new pair of hiking boots on my feet, we were wanting to get at least some use out of them despite the unfavorable weather conditions. We knew right away that we wouldn’t make it very far down our selected trail. It was labeled ‘strenuous’ and it descended at a steep slope, which would have been difficult to get out of at our current physical state.

Despite not going far down the trail, I was mystified at what I considered to be a scene from a fairytale as we walked. The chill in the air, the lack of bright sun streaming through the trees, the abundant mist, and the lush green landscape all worked together to create a magical scene, reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz. The short hike along this trail was the second moment that I will never forget.

fairytale trail

After two nights camping, we stayed the third night in a hotel in a nearby city, both grateful to be able to shower again and sleep indoors, but also a little sad to have to leave behind this summer oasis…a place that seemed unlikely to truly exist in the same state that was having sunny, hot-90 degree-weather at the same time. All future camping trips will pale in comparison to this one. And strangely, despite the fierce wind, the darkness brought on by constant cloudiness that blocked the moon at night, I was never afraid. A few brief moments on a darkened beach among friends brought on an inexplicable fear within me, yet, sitting near the campfire, across from my husband in firelit darkness, with the wind and mist swirling around us, I felt peaceful…cold, but not fearful. Truly, another moment that will stick forever in my memory.