Different

A number of people have told me that I'll get to relive my youth through my son, seeing the world from his perspective and empathizing with his perspectives. This may happen with some "timeless items" such as learning to ride a bike1, playing catch2, or rushing to the emergency ward of a hospital3, but the world has changed quite a bit in the 40-odd years since I was his age. That said, one old memory that came back to me with incredible clarity this past weekend was evoked when the boy went down for a nap while we visited his grandparents in Gifu.

This is likely a common memory for most people. My parents would visit family, and I'd have to take a nap or otherwise go to sleep in an unfamiliar place surrounded by unfamiliar smells and hearing unfamiliar voices. Even for places I'd been to dozens or hundreds of times, the place would feel "weird" to sleep at. Most of the time I'd have to make due with a sofa in an unused room. Occasionally I'd be asked to sleep in someone else's bed, which I never did because it felt very wrong. Even now I would choose to sleep on a hardwood floor rather than rest in a bed that belongs to someone else. In the distance I'd hear my parents loudly talking and laughing, all the while insisting everyone under the age of 10 "go to sleep".

The boy is still too young to make strong memories4, but I do wonder if he felt it odd to sleep in a different room surrounded by different smells and different voices.


  1. which I recall learning alone on a gravel driveway in the rain
  2. the strongest memory of which involves my father and I walking over to the elementary school near our apartment, where we'd throw the ball for what seemed like hours on end
  3. Hope this doesn't happen ...
  4. I think ...