Friday, January 17, 2014

They'll Remember
Last week, I was having breakfast at a hotel in New Orleans to the strains of 1960s rock and roll. Of course, most of the songs carried with them some kind of childhood memory, but one song in particular took me back to a specific time and place.

I was 10 years old and spending the night with my friend Debbie. We both loved "Hey, Baby," and decided, as 10-year-old girls do, to make up a dance to the song. Standing in front of the mirror in, I think, her parents' bedroom, we spent the evening working out just the right choreography to the Bruce Channel hit. To this day - you do the math - Debbie and I remember nailing that song with our fine 10-year-old-girl dance moves (and, no, we don't remember most of those moves).

The point is that memories made as a 10-year-old, or a 3- 6- or 7-year-old, last. Even 52 years later. Even sitting in a hotel in New Orleans, far away from the original scene of the crime. Even after years of other memories have been piled upon it. Debbie and I break into "Hey, Baby" those all-to-few times we see each other these days. Always have. Ever since that Friday night in 1961.

I try to remember that when I'm with Liam and Charlotte. Moments - usually wonderful, funny moments - stick in the brain, burrow deep, and float up over the years and into the future. My particular moment with my friend is tied to a popular song, but it could just as well have been tied to an event or phrase or experience. You can't predict with childhood memories.

Who knows? Someday many, many years from now when I'm long gone, Liam may remember some silly GrandMary-ism or dance or game that will bridge time and loss, binding us forever. As Charlotte grows, more memories will be made.

But you can't let it cramp your style. I mean, if you think too hard about making these memories, I suspect you won't make very good ones. No, it's the spontaneous or repetitive that might pop into 60-something Liam's mind years from now. Charlotte in her dotage may remember a slice of a moment that keeps us close through time.

Maybe we'll make up a new dance to "Hey, Baby," though more likely we'll use a Justin Timberlake tune. And whenever they hear it years from now, they'll smile. They'll remember.

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