Romanticizing Memories

One bathroom.

3 families. 19 people. 2 decades. 1 bathroom.

We must have been total lunatics with rock bottom sanitary standards to have survived it but survive it we did.

It was grueling but the lack of option, or knowledge thereof, made it nothing more than just a hitch we had to deal with. It was inconvenient but it wasn’t, obviously, the end of the world.

On hindsight, it resulted to lots of memories, good and bad. I can’t be certain which one outweighs the other.

We bathed together, do the laundry together, and chatted about anything and everything and something and nothing while waiting for our turn to use the loo. It became a meeting point in both the good and bad times.

This recollection is inspired by Facebook. Several weeks ago, my cousins, nieces and nephews that are still in the Philippines went out for dinner and coffee. It was followed by a 10-mile long conversation. What was originally a ‘hello’ turned into a competition of who can post the most embarrassing childhood pictures and mushy ‘I love yous’ and ‘I miss yous’.

So how does that dinner get connected to that one bathroom I shared with 18 people?

Sharing one bathroom with 18 people should really be a criminal offense but I don’t feel disdain towards it. In fact, I am finding myself remembering some fond memories.

Fond memories. In a bathroom. Shared with 18 people.

I wonder if what I recall now as happy times in our childhood were really as good of a time as I make it out to be now.

Growing up, not all of us were particularly close even though we shared so many spaces. We had cliques. I and two other cousins were tight. My sister was closer to the children of my eldest aunt. The boys had their own group.

We competed ... not always the healthy kind. Backbiting. Fist fights. Verbal war. Silent treatment.

We had traditions observed in different levels every year. Annual family summer trips. Christmas Kris Kringle. All Saint’s Day gathering. It was stronger, happier and well-attended when we were younger. Simpler, too. 

We’d rent a jeepney and fit everyone there. We’d bring the food we can afford to buy or cook. We’d go to places we’d heard of, some were good, some horrible. Each other’s company was the highlight though.

It became a bit more complicated as we grew up. Things were always simpler when we were younger. We grew up and things changed. We changed. Expectations were set and unmet. Standards changed and not always in a unified level. 

We had drama. Our parents weren’t always in good terms. We weren’t always in good terms. We fought and some lasted longer than it should have. Some were brushed off when it shouldn’t have been.

We laughed… shared secrets… had so many running jokes… and horrible fashion phases.

Until one by one we built lives outside of that 1 bathroom and the 3 homes around it. We discovered ourselves or built ourselves, depending on how you look at it. There were ups and downs. There were highs and mediocres and lows. There were flings. Failed loves. Achievements. Failures. Gains. Losses. 

We were distant witnesses to some and passive companions to a few. We knew though. We knew what was happening. Always. For better or worse.

That’s as honest as I could be about my history with my family. I don’t know how accurate my memory is which is the entire point of this post.

Do we always remember the past the way it really happened or do we romanticize it?

Age has a way of grounding us and changing us. More importantly, age has a way of changing how we see people, interpret words, experience events and live our lives. 

When we find ourselves with less time to live and less opportunities to be who we once wanted to become, do we shift gears and reinterpret the events of our past to make it resemble the memories we now know we should have made? Are we simply romanticizing the past because we have no way of changing it?

Then again, maybe we are better at seeing things now.

We were young then and didn’t have the wisdom to truly understand what was happening and what we had. We were so “busy growing up” that we failed to do anything else. Maybe how we see the past now is how things really were.

I like it now, though. I like how we communicate now. I like where we are. We have seen each other’s worst and best. We have seen how each of us survived. And somehow, we are still together. We aren’t too old to not have time to be together as cousins and as friends.

I just hope that this lingering question would provide the next generation in our family with answers, with a resolve to carpe the holy hell out of that diem. I hope that the younger generation will decide to be together and be fully present in their togetherness. I hope that the younger generation will be there for each other and not have to ask that question when they find themselves past their youth. 

They never had to share 1 bathroom but they have one blood, diluted as it may seem.


No comments:

Post a Comment