Memories are best made during boredom

Racing Raindrops:  Why we don’t have a DVD player in the car
By Jen Rouse
The Short Years
Oregon Blog

My family only lived about 10 minutes away from my grandparents’ house, but driving those dark miles home when I was a kid, after a cousin’s birthday or an Easter dinner or a Father’s day lunch or one of the many other occasions we found to gather at Grandma’s house, the distance seemed vast.

Dad would carry my sister and I out to the car one at a time, giggling, slung over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes, as he said, and then we’d be buckled in and I’d lean my head against the cold glass of the window and stare into the darkness the whole way home.



Raindrop picture from Mila Zinkova on Wikimedia commons

I would watch for personal landmarks along the way. In particular, one tree at the edge of one driveway, marked with reflectors so that no careless driver would back into it: reflectors that had been arranged into the shape of a smile. Seeing the funny-face tree was a drive-home ritual; missing it by carelessley letting my attention waver or my eyes slide shut at the wrong moment was a tragedy.

The rest of the time, on those dark night drives, I spent the minutes just staring, not at the invisible fields and quiet houses slipping past us, but at the raindrops dripping down the surface of the glass (it is always raining in these memories). Lit only by the faint glow of from the dashboard or the occasional glaring streetlight, each drop followed its own crooked path down the window, wandering and wavering downward, until suddenly, its accumulated weight too heavy, it rushed out of my sight.

My friend Joanna brought this memory flooding back to me today with her lovely post about the small moments she remembers in her own life. And it occurred to me that those minutes when we’re just sitting still and staring at the rain add something to the accumulation of our lives. That just because nothing is happening at any given moment does not mean it is wasted time.

Call it silly, but that’s the reason we don’t have a DVD player in the car for the kids to watch, not even on long trips. Because we live in a house with a TV, and dozens of DVDs, and two computers, and I don’t think we need to bring yet another flickering screen with us out to the car too. Because there’s a great big world rushing past us out there, and it’s full of things to see. Because I think our kids need to know that it’s okay to just be still and watch the rain.

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