I’ve been thinking a lot about memories lately. One of the reasons for this is I went and saw Inside Out (review here); the other is due to my kids having experiences that I remember having. These experiences/memories are very important in the development of who we are and who we are continually evolving into. It is also good to remember that it is not just our good memories that define us, but the bad ones as well. In fact there are quite a few memories that create us. For me there are a couple categories that I would place them into: personal good, personal bad, good experience, bad experience, sexual and emotional. I’m going to list some of the main ones that have made me, well, me.
1. Personal Good: When I was a tinier version of my awesome self I have a memory of the first time I really played with my soon-to-be stepfather. We rolled around in the snow behind our duplex and my brother and I played our hearts out as we hadn’t in a while. He threw us across the yard into large snowbanks and helped us build gigantic snowballs we couldn’t even lift. It was awesome.
2. Personal Bad: When I was twelve years old I ran a 10k with some relatives. I was feeling bad because I had not run as well as I had hoped. However, my younger cousin had done fantastic; I was mean to him because of it. I learned that day that there is a bit more than a small amount of asshole in me. The memory of this time has followed me to bed more than a few times in my life.
3. Good Experience: When I was at Army Basic Training I was getting really run down. I was tired, hungry and feeling quite a bit of self-pity for myself. After one particularly difficult and jarring punishment the Drill Sargent’s had put us through I thought about not just feeling sorry for myself, but about throwing in the towel altogether. Something deep inside me surged up and I thought to myself, fuck it. These dicks with weird hats won’t get the best of me. I’m going to crush the rest of this and I’m going to be the best soldier the world has ever seen. Thirty seconds later I realized that this realization was exactly what the instructors were hoping for. I felt more pride then I had ever felt in my life to that point.
4. Bad Experience: When I was 10 to 11 my Uncle started taking a few of us on increasingly difficult hikes, to get us ready to start doing 14ers. We had reached the top of a very easy 13er in the Indian Peaks Wilderness and, true to his form, he took us down a different way. We started going down a steep scree slope and I was falling behind the others. I sat down for a moment to collect my thoughts and I experienced vertigo for the first time in my life. I suddenly felt like I was clinging to a cliff face for dear life and I was convinced that nothing was going to get me to move again. My uncle was able to eventually get me moving again and we have gone up countless peaks since; but I’ll never forget that feeling. One of the stories of our hikes together can be found here.
5. Sexual: Sexual experiences are a different category as they happened later in my life than most of the others. My wife and I were both virgins until we were married and you would think that the first time we did it would be the one that stuck out, but it isn’t. While I remember the first time, the one that sticks out in my mind was a few years later, when my wife let me have total control of a time together and I took that control and used it. It was a wonderful feeling and experience. It was a culmination of quite a few years together, feeling trust and exploring my own sexuality in a way I never had before. This time went a long way against combating a particular guilt I feel, you can read about that here.
6. Emotional: I have always been an emotional person. My first memory of this was when I was somewhere around 6 years old, sitting in my grandparents house in California. I was watching The Great Escape for the first time as well as understanding it. During the final scene where the Germans execute the majority of the escaped prisoners I started crying uncontrollably. This was my first strong emotional reaction to a story and it surprised me with the strength of it. My reactions to stories I like have only grown stronger.
I think that these six are good enough for now. Writing these down was more fun than I thought it would be. These memories are by no means the strongest ones I have but they did play a vital role in turning me into me. What memories do all of you have or, do you think this memory thing would be a good blog challenge. I’m interested in hearing everyone’s opinion.
I hope everyone had a great weekend celebrating the awesomeness that is America, if you are from here that is. If you are not from here, then here is a little something to remember in-case you and your country ever want to get uppity.