With retirement and the Great Isolation of 2020, I occasionally work on clearing out some of the messes that have accumulated in our house over the years. A couple of weeks ago, I was clearing out the cabinet on my side of the bathroom and found a couple of old wallets – filled with old credit cards and photos of my boys. The stack of photos is more than an inch thick. I occasionally post one on Facebook for friends and family to take a trip down memory lane with.
This week it was a couple of flash drives that the wife found. One of the drives had videos of when my older son dressed up as a cheerleader and with a bunch of other boys did the cheerleading thing at one of their school’s football games. The other drive had a bunch of pictures, taken from 2000-08. It was this drive that I could wallow in for hours and days if given the opportunity.
A folder on the second drive contained pictures from our one and only trip to Hawaii. As I scrolled through the photos, I was reminded of how that trip was such a wonderful, incredible time, and it took me back into the memory machine of other trips and other memories. It’s a wonderful thing about old photos — they rarely bring back bad memories or negativity. No, what old photos do is remind you of a time when somebody was celebrating something, somebody was happy, people were having fun, something good was happening. A birthday, a vacation, a sunset, all sorts of good, happy things are buried in those photos.
When we were in Hawaii, we stayed in Ka’anapali on the island of Maui. We stayed in a condo on a golf course, where we had a short 5-10 minute walk to a beach that never had that many people on it. The folder of pictures is filled with pictures of our time on that beach. A time that really is one of the highlights of my life, not just as a parent to my boys, but in general.
I’ve never been a huge fan of water sports. I know how to swim. I’ll fool around in a pool now and then, but when it comes to lakes, rivers, and oceans, I’m not the type of person to dive in and swim around. Part of it is the cold of the water. Part of it is anxiety over “what could happen.”
When we were in Maui though, we spent hours in the water, and it was never enough. The water there is so warm, you don’t have to get out to avoid hypothermia, and the surf is relatively tame.
Many of the pictures show my boys and I with our boogie boards, riding the waves. Standing with each other, smiling for the camera. What I remember is the hours and hours we spent endlessly playing in the waves. A time when I was able to stop being a dad for a bit of time and just enjoy being with my boys, having fun, laughing and having a blast in the warm waters of Maui.
While we were there we also did some ziplining, and we explored parts of the island. We also went to another beach located by a resort where the rich and powerful stay. I forget the name of the resort, but the beach was incredible. Long and flat and shallow for so long, it felt like you could walk halfway to Japan and still only have water up to your hips.
But the beach by the condo was where many of my memories of that trip reside. It’s where my younger son got stung by a jelly fish – and to this day we make fun of his fear of jelly fish. It’s where my older son, at the tender age of 12 1/2 spied a girl in a pink bikini, floating in the surf on a boogie board. To this day, we joke about the girl in a pink bikini. It is where we were able to just be for a few hours here and a few more there while we enjoyed Maui, and that’s the thing about these memories. They no longer hold the stress and anxiety of the days when these things happened. As the years pass, those feelings peel away, leaving behind only the memories of the good and the fun, the laughter and the joy.
Memories are a pretty powerful tool. They can bring you down, re-visit the pain of past hurts. Or they can bring back the joy, when worries were not a thing, when pleasure over-rode the pain and things were just right. Even if only for a moment, a day, or a week – things were just right. Sometimes perfection is possible and memories are a good way of remembering that.