So recently, as in less than a week ago, my mother moved Here. I say that because it is literally seven floors below where I’m typing this out right now. This is the closest my mother has been, for a sustained period of time, in a long time.
With Mom here, I’m learning and relearning a lot of things.
How to set boundaries and reset them.
She said something the other day, a single statement from her that has me remembering my childhood and how I grew up. I guess that is inevitable when your mother comes to live in the same building.
I grew up in San Diego. More accurately, I grew up in a Filipino neighborhood named Paradise Hills. While there are, in fact hills, the location is not exactly somewhere Kubla Khan would a stately pleasure-dome decree.
That is not to say the neighborhood was bad. I have many fond memories of the neighborhood.
Rolling around on a really fast tricycle and skidding out in a cul-de-sac. Filipino barbecue, sweet and fatty and laid on top of a what I now consider to be a disconcerting amount of rice. The mom and pop Nintendo Cartridge Rental place that was absolutely not legal. Jumping dirt ramps at the end of the lane on my bike.
My first kiss, both awkward and honest in a 1984 Volkswagen Jetta.
And then there are the memories that I do not share with most friends. I never actively made the choice to hide them away or not share them. Maybe in some way, I was scared to be different. None of these memories matched up with what I had seen on TV or what my friends talked about when they recalled their childhood.
The questionable open casket funeral for my babysitter’s grandson—considering his violent death. The bent bars and broken drywall from that time someone tried to break in through my bedroom window. My bike being stolen. My skateboard being stolen.
Visiting a schoolmate and then looking at the bullet holes in the family room behind the television because someone definitely got an address wrong.
There are other hidden memories in this category, but with time and distance they had become hazy and unreal.
So when I talk to my mother and ask her what she likes the most about the new building, and she responds,
“It’s nice. Everything is locked.”
Those words confirm these memories, bring them into a sharper focus. They are my experience growing up as a child in America, and I have only just started to realize that they are just as important as anyone else’s.
// I blame the Xanadu reference on Twitter