What is it that makes my life stand out among those of my friends and everyone else I know? What about my life and history makes me different? Plenty of things, of course! My story is certainly not exactly like anyone else’s, as I’m sure your story is unique to you as well. Yet the word “story” is a large driver of why I’m writing.
There is no doubt that I was raised well, was cared for, and all my core needs were met. As a kid, you don’t know what you’re missing out on because you simply are unaware of their existence. You are (mostly) content with what you have. For the most part, I believe this was the case with me. I had friends, played with toys, Matchbox cars, Legos, He-Man action figures, Lincoln Logs… you get the idea. I even watched some cartoons and other TV shows in my youth. I wasn’t totally sheltered from the world.
However, as I got older and made friends in college and beyond, during times of reminiscing about our youth and sharing stories of what captured our imagination as children, I found that our shared experiences and knowledge, particularly with items of some cultural reference, did not overlap with great frequency. Many of my friends grew up as young children in the 80’s and recall a number of classic TV shows that I was apparently completely out of the loop on. A lot of kids movies, namely many classic Disney and those they released during my youth years and into the 90’s, were and many still are completely unknown to me. Perhaps the one pressing on my mind most is that I’m so void of childhood story book memories. As I see friends talk of sharing books with their kids from their own childhood, I look on with a lack of understanding of what that means. I have no memory of having my parents read to me and my brother. These stories never told weren’t there to capture my imagination and take me to places that didn’t really exist anywhere but in my head. This could explain my love of making up worlds with Legos and later on in video games like Sim City, though these worlds always had some grounding or basis from real life.
I’ve thought to myself on numerous occasions, “Well, why not just rent all those movies you missed and read all those children’s books you never read and be caught up?” Sure, I could do that, but that’s not exactly the point for me. The experience of taking in those stories the first time as a child is something you cannot recreate as an adult. That is what is lost forever. That is what I lament now.
Now I realize there is little I can do about this, save for renting all those movies and reading all those books and catch up. It won’t replace what I missed out on while I grew up, but I suppose that head knowledge should count for something for now. If I ever have my own kids someday, reading some of these stories to them for the first time will fulfill that void from my own childhood. For now, that space in my heart will need to remain as it is and I’ll need to work out what to do with all that extra room.