“Daddy! My favorite dancing show is on!” Small feet skittered across the kitchen floor to find him. “Daaaaaaddddyyy!”
“I’m right here, kiddo,” he said. He stood in front of the t.v., adjusting the rabbit ear antennas. Lawrence Welk shimmered into focus and introduced the song in his nasal drone. As the band began to play, dancers Sissy and Bobby took to the stage in pale blue flowing dress and tuxedo, respectively.
Her father swept me up by my armpits, Mickey Mouse nightgown flapping around my knees. I squealed as I tried to touch the ceiling with my feet before he lowered me down. Keeping my small hands enclosed in his, he swept one leg over my head and twisted around.
“Ready?” he asked.
“Okay then. One…two…three..” He swung me through his legs by the wrists, flipping me up into the air, and I squealed. He dropped me down into an embrace and whirled me in a circle. My feet whipped around, past Lawrence Welk and Sissy and Bobby, past the doorway into the kitchen where my mother was cleaning up the dinner dishes and the baby was cooing in the high chair.
This is an excerpt from a project at which I’m steadily chipping away. I’m sharing it with you today because I want you to understand something really, profoundly important.
Even the smallest stories, the most everyday, mundane stories, hold power.
In this small moment, my father was being playful, dancing with me to the Big Band music of the old Lawrence Welk show. I was five years old, or thereabouts.
In this small moment, my family was intact, two parents, two children.
I remember that moment with a mixture of wistfulness, nostalgia and anger. Why? Not because of the moment itself, but the way in which is represents something that WAS before it WASN’T. Because when I remember that moment I have to acknowledge how things changed.
That is what our stories are always about. How things WERE before they WEREN’T. Or the other way around.
Picture yourself in front of your computer, waiting for inspiration to strike. A memory steps into the light and at first glance seems like nothing, so you start to sweep it away.
Stop. Keep the light on it. Direct the light to the moments or years before it, or the ones that came after.
It might look ordinary. But trust me…it is extraordinary.