When my mother first brought up the plans for us to visit Makassar last month I was a little hesitant. The original purpose of the trip was because of my mother’s high school reunion. We were just tagging along.
I was scared…
Why? Because in a way it feels like I was returning to the city that was so close to where my abuse happened. Makassar has always been a vacation spot for my immediate family because we lived in a small nickel mining town, approximately 12 hours away. We spent so many summer breaks and Christmases visiting my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
I was so scared I was even thinking of canceling it…
Then my fiancé reassured me. He said if I am scared then perhaps it means I really have to do it.
So I did. I flew with my mother, my sister in-law, my son and my niece. The last time, was in 2010 my boy was only a little over 3 years old. He was too young to remember the visit. This time he was amazed to see the city of Makassar. And to hear where his mom spent her childhood summer vacations.
My grandparents have both passed away and we lost two aunts in the 5 years since we had visited last. A lot has changed.
My cousin took us to the street where my grandparents’ house once stood. The small shop across the street was still there, it still run by the same family. My grandparents’ old house was ruined; they told me a fire destroyed the house once. All is left is a few outside walls. It is almost gone. My cousin knocked on the door of a neighbor that lives next to the old house and a girl screamed excitedly from behind the screened door: “Vera!!!” She thought I was my aunt.
She invited us into her house. It had been many years since the last time I had met her. I was still a little girl the last time but I remember spending lots of time with Aunt Yola as I called her. Like a lot of girls do, we used to play beauty salon when I was little. I loved her long hair and I would comb it for her pretending I owned a beauty salon.
They are fond memories…
My heart was filled with mixed emotions as I stood there in front of the ruins of my grandparents’ old house. The alley that leads to the gate used to feel so big to me. Now, it looks small. Like many things in childhood, it must’ve look big through a little girl’s eyes.
I touched the old wall that is still standing; remembering how they felt against my fingers. Pointy and uneven. I looked inside what was once a warm safe place for little Maureen and I remember the many beautiful moments I spent in that house. Playing with cousins, playing with Grandma and Grandpa’s dogs and playing with the kids around there.
Then it dawned on me…
This trip is different this time around.
This trip allows me to trace my memories back to when I was a kid. It reminded me of beautiful days. It reminded me of my family’s love and the bond we have.
Despite the horrible thing that happened to me as a child, I still had beautiful memories of growing up. Makassar held the memories of those happy times and I got to tell my boy all about it. From the funny memory of me dressed in a beautiful girly dress and falling into a stinky black dark gutter to my mother’s horror down to show him the hospital where I was born.
I am making memories for my son too with this trip. He is making memories of traveling with his little cousin. The two bonded so greatly during the trip. They shared a bed; they played with each other and teased one another. Just the way I used to do with my own cousins.
And by reminiscing on my own happy times, I feel grateful for each and every single one of them. Little Maureen did have some beautiful times from her childhood.
Let’s take the positives of our childhood no matter what happened in our lives.
What is the most positive experience you’ve had as a child? Please share with me in the comment box.