This month the From Left to Write Book Club is reading a book called The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, by Jan-Philipp Sendker. Not available on the American market until February 1st, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is an international bestseller about a man who goes missing and his daughter’s search for him. Her investigation into her father’s disappearance leads her to Burma (now called Myanmar) where her father was born and raised. She meets a man in the small village of Kalaw who tells her of her father’s youth and a love story to end all love stories.
Just recently as we were cleaning up from dinner, my mother mentioned to me a story about a boy she used to dance with in school. She said that she used to enter dance competitions with him and he used to fling her around the room like she was a rag doll. She was often afraid that he was going to let her go and she would go careening to the floor. I laughed as I listened to her tell me about how she used to hide from him at school dances because she was so afraid that she was going to get hurt. It wasn’t a love story like Tin Win and MiMi’s in the book, but listening to her reminded me of the book; of Julia sitting in the tea shop listening to U Ba tell her of her father’s youth and the love he left behind.
Listening to her made me realize that I don’t know all that much about my mom before she became my mom. I know she used to sing in shows at school, very much like I did, and that she was in the colorguard. I know that she was engaged once, before she met my dad, but it didn’t work out. I know that her sister cut off her ponytail one day when she was taking a nap. Beyond that, I don’t really know a whole lot.
Listening to her also made me think of my kids. Will they know who I was before I became their mom? Will they know that I wanted to be a novelist (and still do…)? Will they know that I lost their father for 8 months before we got engaged because he wanted to seek his fortune in Florida? Will they know that I used to work in the lingerie department in Sears and sold bras and panties to old ladies? (that was scary!)
I taught my son the other day how to slice his bagel without cutting off his fingers. When he asked how I knew that, I told him that I used to work in a bagel shop with my friends. The astonished look on his face set me back. “You??” he said. “You used to work in a bagel shop??” Like its so hard to believe! I mean, I know I don’t GO to a job every day like some people, but yes, at one point I did, and I still have friends that can vouch for me!
But I digress… My point here is, for most of us before our parents became our parents, they were normal everyday people who had friends, jobs, lovers, and lives that didn’t revolve around us, their children… I hope one day my kids realize that and want to know more about my life BC (before children) as I now want to know about my parents.
Oh, and get the book… Seriously… get it. 🙂
This is an original ROSCMM post and was written for the From Left to Write Book Club. This post was inspired by The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, by Jan-Philipp Sendker, a copy of which I received free from the publisher for the purposes of this book club, and no, you can not steal my content unless you specifically ask me for it first. It’s called copyright, yo.
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