Using Memory, Abusing Memories

LIGHT STAR WARS REFERENCES; NO SPOILERS 

As a kid I missed out on a lot of zeitgeist that my friends grew up on. The second of two girls, my dad’s “son-worthy” influence came in the form of video games and MacGyvering my way through machines. Although I appreciated his instruction when it came to whomping Goombas and hooking up hardware, I was never introduced to certain iconic films.

Cue an adulthood riddled with, “you haven’t seen [insert spectacularly huge movie title]? Where’d you live, under a rock?”

With 2015 being the Year of Star Wars and my return home after five years away, I decided it was time to hop on the Millennium Falcon of all movies and take it for a spin myself. My dad downloaded the original six and we watched them together, after which he reiterated the storylines and I listened, though only half-heartedly. My dad doesn’t exactly provide new insight to old movies; he just kind of gives a Wikipedia version, though very, very slowly.

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So when Star Wars: The Force Awakens came to theaters and quickly became the biggest blockbuster known to man, I skipped his hints to watch James Bond and took him to see Episode VII instead (side note: my instinct proved correct. He didn’t like the poorly-reviewed Bond film. Thanks Internetz!). We went to lunch right after—his favorite, pho—and then got new iPhones for us both.

I’ve been hesitant to let my dad get an iPhone because he’s the last human on earth to actually talk to you in a one-on-one setting without wanting to whip out his phone. Even at lunch, there was not one table without someone on their phone, leaving many a lunch date quiet.

Riding in the car through traffic with my dad, though, I’m guilty of hopping back on; he’s either busy driving or spewing out facts I haven’t asked to hear but he cares to share, so what’s the harm in tuning my ears down to 50%?

Then this happened.

Dad: “Has Ate confirmed where she wants to have dinner for her birthday?”

Me: “Dad you have a phone, why not text her yourself?”

Dad: “I don’t like to be one of those people stuck to their phones.”

In that moment, it was like the heavens opened up and I gained more insight into and appreciation for my dad than ever before—and also an ugly reflection of myself and our society. I already knew that quality time is my dad’s love language, but I never realized how much he craved, paid attention to, and appreciated it. Even as he prayed over lunch he said, “Thank you God for this time I get to spend with my daughter. It reminds me of the good ol’ days, when she was back in school.”

Sometimes I just tune my ears out when he talks because I’m not interested in what he has to say. My sister is a lot better at conversing with my dad, but I’m, I guess, impatient. After this simple sentence, though, I realized how much he loves spending time with us. That no matter how old we are, he will always crave for those simpler days, when we were his little girls who ran to embrace him at the door.

We’re not getting any younger—especially our parents. Those times we spend on our phones next to our loved ones are memories we’ll never be able to retrieve. You can use all the memory you want but it’ll never beat creating one in that moment. What kind of message does that send to the ones we’re with? “I’m with you, but I’d rather see what everyone else is doing.”

Although old movies were lost on my childhood, my childhood was not lost on my dad. And in a world where technology and cinematic magic move light speed ahead, I’m so grateful when we can slow down time and live in the magic of the moment.

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