Making Memories

seashells

We go to the beach with nothing more than a towel, a bottle of water and a bag for seashells.

No phones, no camera. No umbrella, chairs, cooler or sunscreen. We did a full on beach day like that a couple of days before and within 2 hours, the kids were ready to leave.

What do you mean you want to go back? When your dad and I used to go to the beach we’d set up camp and stay all day.

Expectations run rampant almost everywhere I go but they do not belong at the beach.

We’ll just bring what we need…a towel, a bottle of water…

The beach bag feels uncomfortably light. There’s so much more room. Maybe we should bring sunscreen, more towels, toys…what if, what if, what if?

The nearly empty bag is begging me to fill it but I resist the urge to burden us with more than we need for right now.

As I step out of the room, I see the small bag of seashells on the nightstand and grab it. I can’t stop myself and I feel a twinge of shame for needing just one more thing.

The beach is literally steps away. Our flip flops are soon discarded and our bag, so light it could blow away, is tossed in the sand. We’re free. The kids navigate through the seaweed on the beach like it’s radioactive and instantly start picking up tiny seashells in the wet sand.

Mommy, hold these!

Ah, that bag I grabbed makes sense now.

Later, three of us lay on the towel while our 5 year old daughter buries herself in the sand. I make a sand pillow for her head. Our 6 year old lays across his father’s body, using him as a lawn chair. I remember when he was a tiny baby and my husband would cuddle him to his chest, skin to skin, not moving a muscle for fear of waking him.

There was a time when I would panic at the thought of not having a camera with me. I’ve always taken ‘making memories’ literally. Dissociation has plagued me my entire life and without the mementos I’ve collected to prove that things really happened, it would be like they never did. Names and events I’d rather forget, moments of joy that I wasn’t fully present for, incomprehensible details that I wouldn’t believe otherwise…all proven in writing and in photographs.

These days, memories are more than pictures running through my mind. They can be smelled, tasted, felt. The gooey chocolate chip mint ice cream…the warm sand between my toes…the love pouring out of my heart…

This day at the beach does not need to be proven in a court of law. It can’t be reduced to its most salient details and catalogued. It’s so much bigger than a snapshot.

With arms sprawled, torso and legs buried in sand and sun shining on her face, my daughter says, “Promise me we’ll never forget this day.”

I promise.

I can't resist a selfie.

I can’t resist a selfie.

28 Comments on “Making Memories

  1. Lovely ~

    Sometimes when I hear this song – I think of you.

    Everybody talks
    Nobody understands
    Everyone takes
    Just as much as they can
    But at the top of the stairs,
    There’s a room with a key.
    ‘Cause I got a secret inside of me.

    And everybody’s lost
    and nobody is found
    The pathway should walk
    Across this treacherous ground
    But I go where I like,
    and I do what I please
    Because I got a secret inside of me,
    and no one can take that away.

    And everybody comes
    and everybody goes
    when your number comes up
    Nobody ever really knows.
    But my eyes are wide open
    and my conscience is clean.
    ‘Cause I got a secret inside of me
    and no one can take that away.

    Seems like everything I do
    Everything I play,
    everything I try,
    every single day
    always seems to come out backwards for me

    Meanwhile, everybody laughs,
    everybody lies,
    everybody lives,
    everybody tries
    Just to make it through another day

    And everyone shut up
    maybe I could hear myself scream
    ‘Cause I got a secret inside of me
    and no one can take that away

    Seems like everything I do
    Everything I play,
    everything I try,
    every single day
    always seems to come out backwards for me

    Meanwhile, everybody laughs,
    everybody lies,
    everybody lives,
    everybody tries
    Just to make it through another day

    And everybody comes
    and everybody leaves
    and everyone tries,
    but nobody sees.
    But I’m never gonna give up,
    I’ll never give into the grief
    because I got a secret inside of me
    and I’m gonna lock it away
    Yeah, I got a secret inside of me
    and no one can take that away.

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    • Great, great song. You know me well, my friend. Punky died a year ago today and this song really resonates with me right now. We all carry our worthiness like a secret inside when what we really want is for everyone to know. The world would be a kinder place if we see that light inside each other. xxoo

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, Karen, this just made me cry. It’s beautiful and I love that picture of you so very, very much. But this part, “moments of joy that I wasn’t fully present for” just yanked on my heart. Yes. Yes! That is exactly it. I had chills running up and down my arms and legs as I read that. I have always felt that I was missing life somehow and it terrified me. It was also such a strange thing to be experiencing something but to feel like I was missing it at the same time. I could never explain it to anyone but somehow reading your words, I don’t need to explain it anymore. You get it.

    Disassociation protected me for years but it also numbed me from living and embracing my life. I can finally feel myself and let life in. I can taste the ice cream and it is exquisite. Thank you for this. You’ve captured it all beautifully. It always feels like a relief and validation when how I feel is expressed by someone else. Thank you for this! Much love to you!

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    • “To be experiencing something but to feel like I was missing it at the same time.” That’s exactly it! I always felt like taking pictures would capture what I couldn’t quite feel myself but it didn’t work that way. Now when I take pictures, I know that my feelings hold the meaning and the photos are just supporting images. It’s life changing. I’m so glad you feel it too. xxoo

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  3. Oh Karen,
    This was so SO good. I can feel your joy in the words and maybe even some sand in my hair as I imagine your family sprawled across the beach. When our family has moments like this, I’ll stop and say, “Hey everyone. THIS is what life is all about. Please remember this.”
    When I first saw your selfie on FB, I knew that there had a to be a wonderful story behind it. It was even more beautiful than I had imagined. Thank you for starting my Sunday morning with a warm smile and happy tears. xoxoxo

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  4. Love this, Karen. I don’t do it often enough, but love the freedom of leaving the phone at home, plus all those extras we think we’ll need. I struggle with the discomfort of not capturing it, as you describe. And those memories burn bright, brighter possibly because I saw them unfiltered, or less filtered anyway. Loved the writing in this as usual, and the selfie too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I don’t do it often enough either. There will always be a part of me that doesn’t trust I’ll remember without “proof” but just the knowledge that there won’t a photograph to rely on makes my other senses kick in stronger.

      Liked by 1 person

      • There is a very interesting memoir written by Sally Mann called “Hold Still.” She’s long been considered a controversial photographer, but it’s her writing that drew me in. She speaks of the camera actually robbing the memory because it captures a moment in time. That moment in time forces you to recall that moment and forget the others the surround it. It was as fascinating concept coming from a woman who has made a living capturing memories.
        I have a really hard time going anywhere without my camera, but I’m working on it!

        *ooops! Michelle interrupted again.

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        • I love that concept and it rings true! For me, trying hard to capture an event through pictures sometimes keeps me from actually experiencing the event. But a big part of me wishes I had my camera to take a picture of my son laying on top of my husband or my daughter buried in the sand – just those two shots – then I’d put my camera away. Or maybe not. Probably not. 😉

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  5. Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Love this so much.
    I have been working so hard, especially this year, to live life in full-dimension and not on or in or through a screen.
    Ever see the movie Elizabethtown? Kirsten Dunst is in it and she did this little thing of making a camera with her hands and acting like she was clicking the photo button with her finger. It was frankly annoying in the movie, but I’ll find myself doing it now, when I want to take a photo in my mind and consciously remember it–like telling myself, “I WILL remember this moment always.” Does that make sense?
    So great to see you post, stop by RoS when you get a few… I don’t want you to miss my post “Amy.” xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have not seen that movie but that’s a great way to “capture” a moment you don’t want to forget! I haven’t been on social media as much lately either. It can be such a time suck when I have a real life to live. It’s entertaining but leaves me feeling empty if I spend too much time on it.

      I saw your post in my inbox and have been waiting to read it until I could savor it! Probably tomorrow morning before anyone wakes up. xxoo

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  6. Love this. I’m like you…worried that if I don’t take a picture of the memory, it won’t exist. Yet some of my most vivid memories of my kids, the ones I replay and retell, have no documentation other than what’s in my head. Probably because I was fully experiencing them. Such a great reminder!! And I love that photo of you!!!

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    • Thank you! The only way I can get a good photo of myself is if I take a selfie. 😉 I definitely won’t forget this day. Like you said, fully experiencing the moment means more than a photo ever can.

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  7. This is great.
    And really hitting me right now as I go through old photos. I feel so much as i look at them; I remember the moments. But my memory isn’t jogged, I’m not surprised by them, I KNOW what they represent,and I wonder if I should just get rid of them all. They were the past, it’s now a future that is so vastly different and moving so quickly there is no time for pictures, or when I do take them they mean nothing to me as I go back and look.

    I don’t need anything but that bag and a bottle of water (tho sunscreen is important! ;-)) as I make new memories that I won’t forget until I do, and then no amount of pictures will bring them back.

    this isn’t making much sense….lol…maybe this is my own post waiting to happen!

    Love this tho Karen, beautifully written

    Liked by 1 person

    • It does make sense. I took a lot of pictures this trip but not nearly as many as I have in the past. Documenting the moments isn’t as important as actually experiencing them. I’ve looked back at old pictures before and can’t remember actually enjoying the moment I captured. I was too preoccupied with picture taking.

      I have a giant box of old photographs that don’t mean much to me now but I want to do something with them because I think they’ll mean something to my kids. I still love going through old family photo albums.

      xxoo

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      • my big dilemma is that i’m not sure they will mean anything to my son. I keep thinking i will ask him “what if i just dumped them all?”. I’m afraid he’d say do it….

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  8. Yeah I agree!! An experience held in the body…. Is never forgotten!! And when the kids return to familiar experiences they won’t feel empty heading to the beach without the parafanalia!!

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    • Exactly! It was so nice to not be bogged down by all that stuff. We stayed as long as we wanted and had nothing to pack up when we left. I bet they’ll remember it when we return next year.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh this is beautiful. And shows how we rely on our eyes so much (photos) and neglect our other senses (taste, touch, love). What a beautiful day. Thank you for sharing it.

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