I think a lot of people try to reach immortality through building things, inventing things, or in some other way leaving their mark in this world. These are all fine and valid things but not what I’m after. My version of immortality is through memories and emotions my kids will have in their lives. As usual, there’s a comic by Lunarbaboon for that.
But, at least for now, it’s not by cooking. For my girls and me it’s road trips. The trip from Vienna to Timișoara with all its issues and hassles, the waiting at the border. Then the short trip from the city to my grandmother, the long curved and most times empty last bit of road. Fields of green left and right, animals, stories about how the landscape changed over the years, the lake that dried up when I was a kid, the waved streets that got named “the waves” some nice song to go along with that and the memory is perfect.
It connects to my childhood and will remain in their memories as well. Like Nirvana is connected to our weekly drive to acting class. We’ve got names for potholes (oh boy are there many), pathways where a specific type of birds are on the side of the road. Of course, this probably feeds my nostalgia and I have no idea what they will feel and think about when they are adults.
I can only judge by my past what stuck with me and it’s these trips, me in the backseat of the car looking outside, looking at the people going about their lives. Wondering what they might be up to, sitting outside of their house on the small bench they used to have in villages, feeding animals, talking to neighbors.
I love creating this connection with Romania. A country they knew nothing about, were not born in, but meanwhile feel strongly connected with. Having friends there, knowing about a lot of relatives and also knowledge of this country life. It’s just 500km away, but it’s a completely different world sparking curiosity and lots of questions.
Why are some things the way they are in Romania? Observing a completely different world in some cases.
What? A toilet in the garden without running water where you just poop into a hole in the ground?
So many animals in your backyard, with all that the animals bring with them, the smell, the noise, the flies. Again this reminds me of a lot of stories from my childhood and how I spent every holiday in Romania and couldn’t wait to go there. It’s fun to share some of the crazy stories with my kids.
I didn’t expect my big girl to have such a connection with her great-grandmother. We did visit every time we went to Romania, but still, they were just short visits. My daughter always requested we have to visit her when we go to Romania. Now that she passed away, she wanted to visit her old house, at least from the outside to see it.
This sparked a new flash of memories, for example, the day I came home late and my grandparents locked the gate, I had to jump the front gate, and looking at the gate today I have no clue how I got over that thing without breaking anything, or how I changed the rooms I slept in because my grandmother didn’t want to wake me in the morning, I was planning to go with a friend in a nearby city which meant a 2km walk to the train station, wake-up at 5 am to catch the train going to some nearby city. So small and boring for me today, but so big and exciting at 13-14.
These memories and experiences also bring me a bit back to reality when I sometimes think “oh my god, my kids are too young for this and that”, then I remember, I and my friend were both around 13, traveling by train to a different city, leaving at 5 am and returning sometime in the evening or at night. There were no cellphones, my grandparents didn’t even have a landline or any means of communication whatsoever.
With 15 or 16 we rented the town hall and organized a disco since the town was so boring, the next super small city was too far away to walk there and we wanted to have some fun, and party. It was freedom our kids probably will never experience. Imagine leaving the morning with just a bit of money in your pocket. No bank cards, no atm, no cell phone, no keys, and no plan of what you will do today. No contact with your parents for almost two months. No rules (except grandparent’s rules which were most of the time ignored).
Do crazy shit!
Of course, there was a lot of crazy shit that was dangerous as well, where thinking back today I am glad I survived, like riding a motorcycle after a 5-minute crash course on how to drive it, with no helmet since none existed that fit me, no driving license, and no brakes.
I do not know what challenges lay ahead for my kids, but I will try to do everything possible to stick around long enough to find out. I hope someday they will tell me their stories of the crazy shit they did, all the experiences they made, the fun and not-so-fun things. I will try to create as many memories as possible that will stick around in their mind, keeping me alive in their memories once I’m not here anymore, which will hopefully be a long time from now. This was supposed to be about me creating memories for my kids, but I went down a completely different rabbit hole and ended up in the depth of my memories.
Every problem I had in those days, things I thought were the end of the world, are all meaningless today. What remains, in the end, are the joyful and fun moments, the memories of the crazy shit. All problems I had back then vanished into thin air, just to be replaced by new, bigger problems that in their turn vanished, and any problem I might have today, vanished at some point. Leaving behind a trace of stories, photos, and videos, all of them sparking joy, pain, nostalgia, fun, laughing, and crying.
There’s this image I saw somewhere, the kid enjoying jumping in puddles when it rains vs. the adult seeking cover to hide from the rain. I can’t remember when this happened, when did this change? The wet boots in winter because I broke through ice in a creek and not being bothered by the freezing cold and wet feet. The walks through mud-filled streets due to lack of pavement while it’s pouring outside, just to go visit some friends or get to the train station and now I’m complaining if my subway is 5 minutes late and don’t get me started if it’s raining or cold outside and I have to walk to the subway.
In the end, I won’t remember the comfortable trips by car, but hell, the walk from my grandmother to my aunt, crossing a field where when it rained it filled me with mud until over my knees, I will remember that walk, my shoes so full of mud I could barely walk, relying only on moonlight since there was no electricity.
So yeah, I will create crazy memories for my girls even if it means I have to dance, and dance to Romanian folk music if given the choice I would rather have my nails pulled out than listen, let alone dance to that music. But my girls wanted to, so how could I just sit there and not give them this experience? My big one told me that she saw how much fun I had at the wedding we were invited to. Little does she know that if it wasn’t for them I would have just sat at the table all night and my only movement would have been to the cake buffet.
A last message
To finally come to an end with whatever this post turned into, let your kids do crazy shit, give them room to explore and make mistakes to learn from, and have a bit of trust in your kids, they most likely will do the right thing, give them a way out if shit hits the fan. They will do crazy shit if you want it or not, the question is, will they reach out for help if it gets too dangerous?