Future President’s favorite stories are ours: “Mommy, tell me a story about when you were a little girl,” and “Daddy, what did you play with when you were a little boy?” are his new conversation starters, especially in the car.
Yesterday I told him about how I would take the double-decker bus to the public library all by myself. He listened with rapt attention. “Tell me more stories,” he said. So I told him about my school on the 12th floor of my apartment building and the pool and swings on the roof. “How did you get there?” he asked. When I told him I took the stairs to the roof, he was baffled. “But how?!?” I told him more stories, about climbing the rope ladder up the mountain, playing in the jungle with my friends where we swung from vines and made up spy stories and played Sardines, hiding behind expensive cars.
And then it struck me: how will I ever be able to adequately describe my childhood? My husband has it easy: we currently live just a few miles from where he grew up and went to school. It’s easy to point to locations on our drive – that’s the forest where Daddy climbed trees, that’s the roof Daddy jumped off, that’s the road where Daddy fell and hurt his knee.
Of course someday I hope to take my children to Hong Kong and show them where I grew up. It will be different, of course. But in the meantime, I want to start writing down stories and pulling out old journals, because honestly I haven’t accessed those memories in a very long time. But if I try, I can transport myself back to the elevator I spent so much time playing in (it’s true!), to the car park where I fell and skinned my knee while jump roping, to the teeter-totter where I split open my chin, to the hospital cafeteria where we would visit every Thursday for haystacks and Dreyer’s ice cream.
Even if someday these stories lose their magic for my children, I want to remember everything.