Whenever these discussions get going, the subject is always rosy - memories have a way of glowing late summer orange when people look back at them in these circumstances.
As I have said before, I am old enough to be included in one generation, but too young to have common experiences with my cousins. When they were in college, I was ten; what college age student wants to hang with a ten year old? Thus we have no commonalities - their perception of the world was already in a different place and time by the time I started to capture moments and file them away in the deep storage of my mind.
For example, take this baby in the car seat in the summer of 1963. 46 years ago, mind you what I was sitting in was a perfectly acceptable way of transporting a baby. The seat didn't buckle into anything, it rested on top of the front seats. And those seats? Those seats had no latches to keep them from coming forward in the case of a "crash" (what we call that "impact" now). Now my parents weren't wealthy, but we certainly weren't hurting for money - the car was a 1961 Chevrolet Impala Convertible. Maybe not a Buick, but it also wasn't a Plymouth 2dr. sedan. This was simply what you did with baby in 1963.
Anyway, I digress. Back to my original train of thought. By the time I was this old, the next youngest grandchild in my family in Cleveland was TEN years older than I, and he was my brother. So when the family gets together, I am a lot like the baby in the picture in that I I tend to watch passively as others recount their memories - memories in which I was present, but memories that I have no recollection of.
So in effect, I am part of there memory, but I have no memory of the events - I couldn't. I am too out of time. But because what I do remember from my growing up is completely unconnected to them - they were out of the house and on their own by the time I was ten, these folks really have no place in life my life. So while these people are part of me, I am not part of them. When they start in on their "Do you remember..." stuff, I am at a complete loss, because I don't remember.
So, when the family gets together, we are together, but I am never part of the family.
So lets go back to me in the car...take a look at that baby in the seat. His whole world is before him - every possibility exists in front of him. And I feel for him, I mean me. I look at myself and see everything that could have been, and see a very different reality today.
Life in 2009 is good, but I wonder what life could have been like if I would have been really part of my family. What would it have been like to play with cousins my own age? What would it have been like to have siblings my own age as well.
I'll never know.
I'll just have to keep remembering alone...