I’m still shedding illusions I had when I was a child. I don’t know if it’s something I’ll grow out of or if I’ll always have realizations about things that went over my head when I was growing up. But, either way, there’s something enlightening about uncovering a greater truth beneath things I thought I understood. And, it’s downright fun to bring things into my consciousness that were once lost somewhere in the recesses of my senses.
My most recent realization about my childhood: James Bond, yep 007, was a huge part of my upbringing. I never knew that until I had the opportunity to watch every James Bond movie, starting with the one from 1962—don’t ask how I fit all those movies into my schedule. I should say this is particularly surprising because movies were a small part of my youth and my parents’ still don’t have TV.
I knew my mother had the soundtracks to the James Bond movies, I think through the 80s or 90s. But, little did I know how often those songs were played. As I watched the 007 movies in my Paraguayan home, some for first time and others for a second or a third time, snapshots of my childhood came back. Mom cooking. Mom painting. Mom cleaning. Images of the kitchens of the various places we’ve lived. A mental picture of the patterned rug that seemed to always be there faded into my mind as I watched one movie introduction.
I never know when a revelation like this is going to pop up. One of my all-time favorites is, in college, when I finally realized why my father had once told me his favorite thing to do was sleep. When he told me that I was still in early grade school. I thought he was crazy—during that time in my life I could not be outside or run around enough. But, it only took one semester with a full class schedule, extracurricular activities, and two or three jobs for me to understand why sleeping is one of the greatest things in life.
Paraguayans often ask me if I miss home. They often wonder why I’m so far away from my family. I try to explain that I’m used to it because I left my parents’ houses when I was 18. I think some Paraguayans understand and others don’t. What I don’t have the language skills to explain is that I don’t actively miss my family. Not because I don’t love them, but because they are always with me. I was raised to do my own thing, but I still hear my sister telling me I’m going to get skin cancer when I leave the house without sunblock. I still hear my stepmother’s advice on how to know if I actually love someone when a good-looking guy crosses my path. When I’m not sure if I should go for it, an image of my stepfather talking to complete strangers and getting their life stories helps me take the leap.