When I was a child, I wanted to grow up and be…
Whatever I thought I could do better than the person doing it at that moment. Ok. That’s a slight exaggeration — and makes me sound like a weirdly arrogant kid –, but while other kids might have wanted to be a teacher because they actually thought they would like to teach, I mostly wanted to so I could NOT do it the way a few of my teachers did.
This included high school, and I honestly believe the beginnings of wanting to grow up and do things with words was the English teacher who had. typos. on. every. worksheet. (And inaccuracies about books we were reading. On graded assignments. Where you could lose points for READING THE BOOK CAREFULLY. Unless you awkwardly corrected the teacher, which I would never do. Cough. (I could never tell if she loved me or hated me. Possibly both.))
The end result is that, essentially, when I was a child I wanted to be an adult who adulted better than the adults. Now, how I’m *actually* handling being an adult is something we should talk about. Another day. (A far, far away other day: when my early twenties are just something to chuckle about.) But when I was thinking this as a kid, it was mostly in regards to how adults treated me and other kids around me. (And, if I’m being honest, how adults treated others in books. Then and now, I can get up some REAL good indignation towards fictional characters.)
I spent plenty of time considering how when I was an adult, I would remember would it was like, and handling things differently.
But I don’t. It’s bewildering. I was so, so certain I would be good at this, that I would somehow retain an understanding of what it was intrinsically like to be so young.
But I don’t. In fact, I have a fairly awful memory. But doesn’t this seem to be the norm for all of us? To forget what it really felt like to be in this or that situation? Maybe it’s not my awful memory, maybe it’s just a larger commentary on … on something. Sorry, I almost started down a strange philosophical rabbit trail that I’m really not qualified to attempt. It had to do with empathy, and relating, and you can really quite possibly connect the dots without me.
It’s actually quite frightening, because I imagine this must continue. Mostly to parenting, when I’m clearly not going to be able to remember any of the things I wished my parents did/reacted/understood better when I was younger.
But also to myself, down the line. How well will I understand this current-me when that is no longer who I am? How well will I remember what it was like, being here?
I hope you weren’t deceived into thinking this was really going anywhere particular or unique, but as with a lot of what I’ve found myself writing lately, it comes down to the actual act of writing. I’ve always felt the urgent need to be able to, later on, understand this moment, this age, this feeling, event, relationship, etc. So throughout my life it has surprised me frequently that I don’t actually do it. It surprises me, somehow, when I don’t even keep a regular journal.
And it sometimes frightens me to realize any day-to-day moment might be completely forgotten in a week’s time.
When I was a child, I probably should have kept it simple and realized I just wanted to be a professional book reader.
But really, in a way I could never have understood then, I wanted to be someone who remembered.
I don’t know what it means to accomplish this, to be that someone. But I do know that I more than likely worry about it too much. I’m learning to accept the way my memory works (including the fact that I have extremely limited audio memory — I can remember what was basically said, ideas and concepts and more than enough to be fine, but there is no playback, and there is no way I’ll recall specific dialog). I’m learning, slowly, to accept that there will be so many more day-to-day moments that I will recall.
And I’m learning that, through I can certainly try to write more down, I can stop worrying about it all so dang much.