When I began an independent life at 18, I wanted to create myself anew. I lost or dropped touch with a lot of folks who knew me when I was younger. Life was starting over – why would I want reminders of the cringe-worthy person (or so I thought) I was as a child?
Like a lot of young people in their 20s, I wanted new people, new friends, and few memories to hold me back.
But time moves fast. And now only a few years later I’ve come to accept my own childhood as an important part of my whole life. And while I still want to create a bigger life than I had, I also realize that understanding and knowing my own childhood can contribute to that goal.
The only problem is that I don’t remember enough of it. 6-year old and 3-year old and 9-year old James are far from me, and I miss them now.
But there are people who do remember the younger me: the friends I played with, the people who taught me, the people who took care of me. They remember the time I climbed a tree and stabbed myself on a tree branch. They remember how I learned to swim (and how important post-swim popsicles were to the process). They remember how I used to roam about in my camo army pants on adventures.
These people are part of my past life, but for that very reason they should be a part of my future life. They hold the memories and perspectives that can help me to understand my whole life (of which childhood is a significant part).
So I’ve started to listen when I meet an old family friend who knows a story about me. I’ve started to miss connection with childhood friends from my kindergarten and grade school days. And I hope I’ll make the time to seek out relationship even after all the change of the past 15-20 years.