And it was not the initial waxing that makes the moment shine in my memory like a beacon. Not the honey-dripping memories of brighter sunshine and cleaner streets and greener greens and bluer blues and older olds and newer news. Not the recollection of simple games that needed no explanation beyond the name ("beat with sticks", for instance)-whose simpleness bore an undertone more obvious in malice than under but so subtle in the minds of children who simply giggled while chasing and swinging sticks at each other.
No, these I had heard before. How everyone shook your hand and everyone shook your hand with the firm clutch of someone who was actually glad to meet you, actually glad to see you. The literature was better, the movies were better, the art was better. Everything was cheaper and everything lasted longer. And everyone knew God on a first name basis. That, to have missed these-even if by no fault of your own (that you were naturally born fifty, sixty, or three hundred years after, for instance), was to have missed everything. And, though it was by no fault of your own (in most cases), you somehow still felt responsible for the loss of those memories you never had.
No, it was not those memories. Those stories Allister had told me many times before and would tell me many times after. No, it was the second coming of the waxing-the waxing that came as a reply to my observations about my thoughts about the hardships found in the present.
To these, Allister replied that no time was tougher than his. There was no money. No food. Dinner was simply the broth of boiled rawhide. And breakfast and lunch-if you indeed had the opportunity to eat another meal-were the leftovers of dinner. Thanksgiving and Christmas meals shared the same turkey skeleton for generations. There was no education. Everyone died. Everyone was desperate. There was no medicine. All politicians were corrupt. No one was paid what they were deserved and, if you whispered doubt, you were shot or blacklisted (or vice versa). Black men were lynched for no reason beyond being black somewhere. Women could not vote. War lurched around every corner. Families starved and no one cared. And no one could ever know how deep it burned unless you had lived it.
And it was these memories, the way the honey-drip had turned to tar, that made the waxing different.
It dawned on me so suddenly how it all made sense.
For, no one will ever find memories as happy as those that have made us happy. And no one will ever find memories that cut so deep as those that have cut us so deep. I know someone has said once before, though I do not think it was Allister, that all original storylines have already been used. That there may be only six or seven. And, so, it may be even less. There may be only one story in the end for every living thing. It is born and it will die.
But, how did the number of stories become the most notable observation? Is it, not the number of stories, but the number of voices that have told them that is most important? It is the coloring of the stories. That some have told them blind and some deaf and some mute and some with no arms and some with no legs. That some have been women and some men. That some have looked death in the eye and lived. That some have not. That love and honor and laughter permeate through even the smallest of wrinkles. That our names are left on trees and concrete bridges. Our good and our bad are ours, our lives a tangle of our pain and our love. And, looking with a wide enough lens, should make us realize that we are all telling the same incredible story.