Mid-Summer 2013: Another Stage on the Life Path
When I think about being a child or a young teen, what stands out to me is how far into the future my gaze didn’t go. I know a lot of people think of kids and teens as self-centered, sort of in a bubble of their own world, their own time. That may be partially true, but if it is, it has to make a kind of sense that, having lived so few years so far, they don’t stretch their vision decades forward, don’t yet look at people much older than themselves and say…there is where I may go. And maybe many teens do actually look that far out, and I was just one who didn’t.
The thing is, I don’t really remember thinking much about my what my life would be like at this age. This is probably at least partly because I moved out of the house when my parents were a decade younger than I am now, so my age now, at that time, meant grandparents. Wonderful as mine were, they were still one more generation jump away from me, so I’m sure I simply loved them much more than I saw them as a potential future model. And, honestly, even if I did look at my parents as a pattern for how my life might go, that pattern would have turned out to be false–not in any huge things like love and happiness, but in subtle shifts that, obviously, work better for me than they would have for my folks.
All this is leading up to the fact that, here I am, once again, looking at where my life is and thinking, yeah, so…didn’t see this coming.
Last summer, about this time, I went back to work. Part-time and basically within school hours, but I still knew it would be an adjustment. Luckily, I like my job a lot, and, luckily, it’s definitely filling a hole that had bee in my life for a few years–a hole that needed something new and brain-stimulating-in-a-different-way to fill. And, honestly, during the school year, I didn’t see all that much difference.
Then summer came. It’s been a good one. I’m still happy to be working, and I got my awesome vacation, and weekends are treasures, but–once again–a “season” doesn’t feel like it did last year. Or five years before that. Or five years before…you know. It’s relaxing, yes, because–hey, no school for son–but it’s busier, duh! The motion feels steady and forward, like a set of wheels powered by kinetic movement. It used to feel like an oasis of long, slow, warm weeks, in which you barely noticed the turning of the clock, let alone the calendar. Neither is better. Boy, are they different.
It’s not like I’m surprised. If you’d laid out a plan for me decades ago, showing me that things would change, I’d have said, yeah, sure. Okay. I think, though, that I would have also said something like, it’ll be easy/simple/straightforward/boring (pick your word), because I’ll be settled. I’ll have things figured out. I’ll understand life.
And…thank goodness I would have been wrong.
Yes, life is more scattered, more chaotic than I thought it would be. Yes, there are changes coming–both for myself directly and through my son and husband–that I can’t predict, as much as the little control-freak-monster part of my personality might want to. Yes, there are days when I would happily swap the still-not-settled feeling for just a TASTE of boredom, when the unknown makes me anxious. But…oh, well. Whatever. If I had to live now with the “me” I would have visualized back then…?
I’m not here to shout, “Bring it on.” You can bet I’m hoping that most of the changes I’ll have to face will be good ones. But trade the sometimes-chaos for predictable and defined? For everything in its place and on my calendar? Nah. No way. Thanks, but no thanks.
It’s funny, as a kid I was able to envision myself old quite easily. (Maybe because there are so many “wise old” characters in children’s lit.) But middle age was something I didn’t really think about. Of course, back then I thought of 40 and 50 as old, so I wasn’t leaving much room for middle age, either!
I can’t remember how far out I looked.I know I thought about marrying and having kids and getting some kind of job, but mostly I just wanted to read my books. And, yeah, even though I’m ten years older than my mom was when I was my son’s age, I still feel younger than she looked/felt to me back then.