On Memories That Last a Lifetime


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What have you experienced in your life, or are doing right now, that you’ll remember forever?

When I was 16, I was the point guard for my rec league basketball team. An awkward, lanky, still-growing teenager but with surprisingly good hand-eye coordination.

My dad was the coach. We were down 17 points going into the fourth quarter and each quarter was only eight minutes long. The clock only stopped for time outs.

Any sane person knew we had no chance.

One minute into the quarter we made a basket, then stole the ball and made another. Somehow, with less than thirty seconds left in the game, we had clawed our way back to just 3 points down and had the ball.

The athletic but highly uncoordinated kid on our team bricked a 3-pointer off the backboard. The ball vaulted into my hands. I stepped back and drained the 3 as time expired.

That ordinary middle school gymnasium, damn near the middle of no where, with two-thirds of the bleachers empty, went nuts.

The game went into overtime. And again, as time was about to expire, my team made a basket to tie it up. By then the crowd was electric. You would’ve thought our mediocre rec league teams were playing for the state championship.

Normally, games were stopped after one overtime to keep the rest of the day on schedule. The crowd booed when the refs tried to call it and started chanting “Let them play! Let them play!”

Exhausted to my core, I laid down on the court after the final buzzer rang. Seventeen points down going into the fourth quarter. We had pulled off the miracle and won in a second overtime that was never meant to happen.

I’ve been asked many times in my life “Why don’t you just give up?” And almost every time I remember that game.

Obviously we never ended up on ESPN. We were just a bunch of nobodies from Hempfield Area playing in a game that didn’t matter to anyone but us. 

I never thought I’d be talking about that game almost twenty years later. Yet the memory has stuck even after all these years.

It’s funny how some moments do that. The memories of them vivid and clear. While other seemingly more “important” memories fade to time.

Another moment that I remember well happened about four years ago on my two-minute walk into work.

It was one of the first cold, October days in South Carolina after a brutally hot summer. I grabbed my phone from my pocket and unlocked it. Some lady giving the duck lips glared at me from my screen.

I was still on Tinder from the night before. “No thanks,” I said as I swiped left indicating that no, I was not interested.

After a handful of swipes left, I remember pausing at a beautiful young woman, who at first glance, appeared to be just another scam bot (the platform was flooded with them back then, probably still is). I scanned through a few of her other pictures though and she seemed real enough.

“F it.”

I gave her my last free super like, Tinder’s version of a YOLO, and shoved my phone back into my pocket as I walked inside.

Today, we have the best little baby boy together with a new baby girl on the way.

I had no idea that browsing Tinder that morning, by complete chance, would change my life. I also didn’t think twice about remembering that morning walk. But here we are.

Again, it’s funny how ordinary moments often turn into the most memorable stories.

I also have strong memories that don’t make much sense.

One of my earliest memories is of me sitting in the backseat of my mom’s Buick LeSabre.

I’m maybe three or four years old and my mom reaches back to scold me for not wearing my seatbelt right. Begrudgingly, I pull the shoulder belt over my arm and wear it as the good lord intended.

That’s it. That’s the memory.

There is also a random park bench in Switzerland that comes to my mind often.

park bench

Photo by author

Of all the cool things I did on that trip, my most vivid memory is from sitting on that bench and staring at the Rhine Falls. I can still feel the mist across my face on that cold, gray windy day in December.

And then there’s the time I went to Kennywood, a local amusement park in Pittsburgh, for my birthday party when I was 12.

I don’t remember many of my birthdays from back then, but I remember that one because my buddy, who didn’t tell anyone he suffers from roller coaster nausea, puked his brains out the whole day.

When I think about my past, it’s weird how certain memories flood my brain.

Sometimes a new one pops up every now and then, but it’s usually the same stories over and over. Other memories don’t surface until I zoom in on a specific time period and start thinking about the different things I was doing back then. I can draw them out if I exercise my brain hard enough.

But again, it’s just wild to me how some memories stick more than others.

There’s this quote from The Office finale that I love. It’s when Andy and the others are reminiscing about all the good times they’ve shared throughout the years.

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” — Andy Bernard

You might be in the good old days right now.