Growing up, my cousins and I were intrigued by the women in our family At every family function, we would break away from our older cousins room, deemed the “kids room,” where all 12 of us were supposed to play video games and watch movies. Unsatisfied with the sitcoms and tired of waiting for our turn at the controller, the three of us would sneak down the stairs and watch as our moms and tias led discussions. Each had a story to tell, a memory they could not wait to relive. Discussions of growing up in a two bedroom house that housed 12 people, living from pay check to pay check and eating rice and beans for weeks at a time would always come up. They talked about the way my grandmother held the family together, and tried to understand how she managed it all.
At times there would be silent moments as they remembered the hard times, and a few seconds later someone would break the tension with a happy tale, and all would break into laughter as they remembered the fun events—when their brothers covered their hair with shaving cream, or their mom caught them fighting, or the times when their mom joined them on their dates—many instances they sat in the back as their mom took the front seat. They reminisced on the punishments meted out and teased each other about getting caught. My favorite moments were when they would break into dancing and mimic each other’s dance moves. The oldest sister Maryann would always lead the dance off with her famous mashed potato, causing each sister to eventually rise from her seat and show what moves she could still do. Hearing our moms and tias laughing like school girls, we would be unable to sustain our giggles and get caught. Realizing we were eavesdropping, they would send us back upstairs with promises that they would come up and get us soon. Treading back upstairs with grins on our faces, we knew it was worth it.
Now at the age of 22, I have realized how important memories are. In the end, that is what holds relationships together—reminiscing on the memories we shared. My cousins and I talk about the times we shared. We now sit and remember our precious times together. It was during one of those intimate moments when I realized how important story telling is. I never understood where my drive to write came from; I just knew it was something I could not live without doing. Looking back on my childhood and my last four years of college, I have realized from where my passion stems. Everyone has a life story to tell, a story only she knows the ins and outs of. It means a lot when that person lets you in to that world, granting you the right to share in her memories. After talking to many people and writing their stories, I have gained respect for those who let me be their voice. Someone needs to tell those stories, and that is what I aim to do. I have learned so much simply by listening to others and asking questions. There are so many stories that need to be told, and they start with a simple question: “Tell me about yourself.”