I can’t count on my two hands the number of times my parents or elders have told me the same stories, both trivial and significant, thinking it was the first time they’ve shared it. Or how many times I’ve sighed, rolled my eyes, and said to myself, “Omg. This again.”
I can, however, think of five separate and distinct moments where my dad told me of the time he’d gotten so drunk he fell asleep two nights straight in a compost heap and thought he’d die from alcohol poisoning. Or the time he went skinny dipping in Lake Superior. Or the night he got so high and was pulled over by a cop for driving under the speed limit when he felt like he’d been driving the DeLorean.
I used to think that he’d tell me these same stories to deter me from making bad choices– as if the hundredth iteration would really drill it into my head.
But now, I think back to how he would smile telling me about how young he had been. How scary it was in the moment but how funny it had become in hindsight. Reading in-between the lines of his laughter, I learned how it’s okay to want to experiment, make mistakes and collect experiences like a librarian collects books to put on her shelves. To enjoy life and remember the passing moments it affords you. And most importantly, to force your kids to listen to them one day.
Because what are memories if not drafts of the stories we’ll one day share with others? And what are stories if they’re never passed on?
As I continue to hone my understanding of “adulthood,” or the illusion we cast of it, the more I start to appreciate storytelling as a reliever from the stresses and challenges of life, of hardships that age us.
So, I think my parents know exactly when they’re sharing the same thing to me, and I don’t think they care. In fact, I’m sure they enjoy it, which is why they do it.
And I enjoy it, too.
Because they’re growing older and might not be around tomorrow to tell me again. Because the tenth time could be the last. Because they get funnier each time. Because when I hear them again, I find new details. Details that have nothing to do with the story itself, but with the person telling it.
It’s a wonderful thing to feel connected to those we love. And the stories we share are more than just their words or their lessons to be learned. They’re the movement of the bodies telling them, the tones of their voices, and the embellishment of their details.
They’re spaces of belonging and connection that make words and people feel like home.
They’re branches off the same tree bearing fruit that continue to feed a necessary part of us.
And they’re the bridges between bodies that won’t always be there to walk along.
So let your dad remind you that candy was a dime a dozen when he was a kid. Let your mom tell you again of the time she fought a boy in third grade because he liked her. Let your Lola and Lolo lecture you weekly about what life was like before the age of technology.
Let them tell you these chapters of their lives. Cherish them. Because these are the threads in an endless tapestry that decorates an otherwise dreary world.
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