Heart BEATS: “Banking on Shared Memories Is More Valuable Than Gold”
Published on September 04, 2012
Teresa and I were talking the other day about having spent 33 incredible years together and about how well we know each other.
We've talked about childhood friends, and about the circumstances that got us a whooping from our parents (Teresa got her bottom-blazing around the age of 4 or 5 when she tried to go across the busy highway below her house with a penny to buy some candy at a store, and I got mine when I set fire to weeds behind the farm shop and almost set it on fire). We’ve talked about the highs and lows of our educations, previous romances, how we were shopping the greeting card aisle at Woolworths in Twin Falls, Idaho, when Teresa's water broke with baby Mikkel, now a grown woman with a child of her own. We talked about our children's first jobs, a lemonade and cookie stand at our garage sale, and on and on.
Ours is a life really lived — warts and crowning moments, successes and dreams not yet realized. Because most people would much rather talk about themselves than listen to someone else’s life, we're really the only people — even among family or lifelong friends — who know that much about each other.
This history is like a precious bank account to us as a couple, as valuable to us as our strong love, loyalty and physical attraction to each other. It’s something we've added to year by year, trip by trip, child to grandchild, holiday by holiday. Between printed photos, digital photos, VHS tapes, 8mm tapes and digital video files, these memories are well-documented. But the best details are held within the privacy of mind, to be shared with those involved, replayed over and over.
One of the things about divorce that has always bothered me is that all the collective memories are drained, a sad addition to the issues of the damage to children, the problems of where to spend holidays, and the stiffness of special events, such as weddings, when ex-families are thrust together. I sometimes think it takes two to build a memory bank, as Teresa and I are constantly filling each other in on things the other has forgotten, or adding a richness of detail that makes the memories feel like 3D in surround sound. If something happened to one of us, it would be impossible to rebuild this treasure trove of memories with another, even if we wanted to or found the energy to try.
Then there are the physical details. I know Teresa is part Cherokee (thus her beautiful tan skin and high cheek bones) and has distinctive grooves on the back of her front teeth. She also has a lump on her lower back that started with being bucked off of her horse, SanDarrow, when she was 15 years old — an injury made worse by a motorcycle crash at age 20 with a past boyfriend who was stationed at Mountain Home Air Force base in Idaho with her brother. Teresa was the queen of the Delta Chi fraternity at the University of Idaho, and when she was a junior in college, she went into a tattoo shop in Boise with a Delta Chi friend and got a tattoo of flowers and a butterfly in a place that only a few of us have seen. Her friend almost passed out from the pain and is now an attorney in Boise.
On my side, Teresa knows I pulled a hot iron off of the ironing board when I was very young and have a big scar on top my left hand, and that I chopped off about a third of the end of my left thumb with a beet knife on the family farm. She knows that the scar on my forehead, which just looks like a line today, was the result of a violent car accident when I was in high school — I flew through the windshield and got a huge cut that needed plastic surgery. The kids back in high school called me "Scar Face," but the plastic surgeon told me it would fade with time and nobody would notice. Only Teresa and a few others know where I got "that line."
And that brings me to pets. Our pets. We know where our pets’ lumps and bumps are. I know Quixote has two missing front teeth on the upper right side, and also that he's nine years old, a Pomeranian-Yorkie-Chihuahua cross, per the Mars Wisdom Panel. I know that our Lab-Pit cross Gracie's coat changes color during the year, sometimes showing more splashes of brown. And I know that Quora has the weirdest toenails, a hodgepodge of black and white that are interesting to trim, because just as soon as you do a white one where it's easiest to see the quick, you come to two dark ones that take extra time, so you don't cause unnecessary pain.
Some of these things may seem major, some not, but they're important to me. These are all the details that reside in our hearts, and they are precious beyond measure.