Over the weekend, Daniel and I accompanied my parents to Stockton Lake to celebrate Independence Day. (For those of you following me during Camp NaNoWriMo 2015, Baby Groot came, too!) This was Daniel’s first Independence Day, and while he still hasn’t memorized The Star-Spangled Banner, he had a blast watching the fireworks over the lake and ogling at the almost-embarrassing amount of patriotism. Seriously, our campground had two patriotic parades (one for decorated golf carts and one for decorated house boats) and fellow campers blasted American-themed country music songs from said golf carts and house boats and trailers, too.
Beyond having to say “Because ‘Merica” to my immigrant husband a few dozen times, this weekend was a bit odd for me. First, as with all the moving-induced insecurity, I have no idea when and where I will be for Independence Day next year. However, I imagine I will not be able to make it back to the Midwest for our lake tradition. I hope I’m wrong. Second, my blanket excuse for all things moving and “real life” related has been “I’ll do it after 4th of July weekend.”
Guess what time it is?
Luckily, I think I’m ready to tackle the big to-do list. After a relaxing weekend, I’m feeling recharged and prepared to face the challenges in front of me. For me, the lake is one of the most inspiring places. Gorgeous nature, eclectic people, and sensory overload — what more could a writer want? During this trip, Daniel took pictures to document his experience, and I found myself trying to memorize every detail.
I’ve been doing that a lot lately — trying to memorize everything. Despite living in the same state my entire life and in the same house for nearly 15 years, I keep worrying that I’m going to forget things about my home. Will I remember the irises that sprout in the ditch? Will I remember the pattern of the chihuahua scratches on my door frame? Will I remember the sound of water bubbling through the creek at the end of the road? The inscription on the bridge?
I know that I won’t. Even with photographs and careful planning, five, ten, thirty years from now, I won’t remember all of these details. And that long from now, I will have new details to cherish and new memories to catalog. Life goes on, and the human mind files through everything, storing and tossing as appropriate.
That’s why writing is a blessing. Already, the essay I wrote about Stockton Lake is holding onto those memories for me, like a piggy bank just waiting to be cracked open when my neuron funds run short. It works for my mom, too, who gets to relive our favorite place right along with me every time she reads that essay. All I have to do is string words together on a page, and the things I want to remember and the feelings I have will come flooding back to me. It’s why readers love to read, why books, whether paper or electronic, will always be celebrated and shared.
We writers are more than just storytellers. We are historians. We are textual photographers. We are treasure seekers and keepers. We are the key-holders to the human memory, the collective human experience.
What will your words do for you, for your loved ones, for humanity today?