The theme for the final week of the October Memoir Challenge is Gratitude and Regrets. I’m big on gratitude — an under-sung cure for every bad mood. Regrets, not so much. The word regret always gets me humming the Frank Sinatra song, “My Way.”
Regrets, I’ve had a few,
But, then again, too few to mention.
Lately, though, I’ve begun to appreciate some meanings of regret, the ones about possibilities denied. For example, I regret that my mother didn’t live long enough to experience LOLcats. She would have loved LOLcats. So, I think this week I’m going to write about regrets related to roads not traveled and gratitude for what I got instead.
A Road Not Traveled — Childhood Abroad
My post about Shallow Roots last week sparked conversation on my blog, on Facebook, and on the phone with my brother, Dale. He reported a talk he’d had with Mother once that revealed that not only had she wanted and expected to move a lot during our childhood, she had hoped to be transferred to a location abroad for awhile. He remembered seeing photos from a company family who lived in Belgium.
I’m trying to imagine, now, what my life would have been like had we lived in Belgium when I was young. Here are some possibilities:
- I would speak more than one language
- I would have childhood photos and memories from all over Europe
- I would have developed a deeper appreciation for art
- I would have a better understanding of Western Civilization
- I would have traveled more frequently and farther afield all of my life
The Road Taken — a Solid Midwestern Upbringing
As cool as travel abroad in childhood would have been, I am grateful for the quintessentially American experiences in my growing up years.
We spent part of every summer at my grandparents’ farms in Indiana, with adventures that included ponies, fishing, and eating roastin’ ears (corn on the cob).
I’m grateful for the excitement I felt surrounding school dances. The back of the following photo says, in my handwriting:
First Dance: Fri., Dec. 20
Hair is in middle of back
(I danced with 2 boys)
Interesting that I thought the date was important, but not the year. I think this was 8th grade. The hair length would have referred to when it was sopping wet and pulled straight with my fingers. In this photo, I’m wearing pigtails that graze my shoulders. It’s unclear whether I was more excited about the length of my hair or who I danced with.
And, I’m grateful for the ways that I could stretch myself, with a variety of experiences, in a small town. Here I am (farthest to the left) in the High School musical.
What alternative childhoods can you imagine?