So much about being a parent of a teenager is about looking back: "Remember when," is how a great many conversations in our house now begin. All those photos and memories of the years that led up to our current living arrangement serve as reminders of what was, and all we do is generate more each day. And that's up here on the first floor. Below is is the vast warehouse known as "the basement."
Imagine the last scene of "Raiders of the Lost Ark." There may be several mysteries and as many sequels stored away in corners and on shelves and on any available horizontal surface. Lost Ark of the Covenant? Amelia Earhart? Jimmy Hoffa? Probably not, but there are treasures from a few generations tucked into boxes and giant plastic tubs. Not just my son's childhood. There's plenty of that, but his mother and father's youth have come to rest down there as well. T-shirts from concerts I vaguely remember. Sketchbooks full of drawings that haven't seen the light of day for decades. Letters and snapshots that come from a generation before such things were stored on hard drives. Now they reside in shoe boxes, waiting for that moment when the spin cycle is slow to finish and I find myself drifting away from the public portion of our laundry facility toward the dark recesses that hold all the hopes and dreams of the people who live up above. Train sets and "extra" Legos. A telescope that helped us unlock the mystery of the moon and could never quite focus on Saturn long enough to find those pesky rings. Comic books read by me. Comic books written by my wife. Comic books loved by my early-reader son. Construction paper decorations for holidays that pass by before we remember we have "just the right thing." Classroom assignments that won special merit. Classroom assignments that never got sorted and were kept for another time when there was sorting to be done. Cartons for appliances that have served their purpose and moved on. Cassette tapes full of music long since forgotten, but stowed away carefully in their protective cases. Toys from my childhood and later. Relics that we cannot let go. That is what basements are for.
Some nights it is hard to sleep on top of all those memories. But we do. And when the sun comes up, we go out and make some more.