photo by Sheri Dixon

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Oh, To Be Twenty One Again

Not really. I wouldn't be 21 again for all the tea partiers in Kentucky.

When I was 21 I was pretty newly married with a tiny baby. I thought I knew what I wanted from life, and how to get it. My husband and I had a written plan and believed that if we followed that plan, we'd attain all our goals and be happy ever after in no time (well, at least by the 20 year mark of that neat little plan).

When I was 21 I was pretty conservative, having given up my wilder days of the late teen years (drinking age was 18 back then and I crammed alot of partying into 2 short years).

My friends and I had partied across the country- drank tequila shots in the back of a shag carpeted VW bus with an obscure rock band in Yellowstone Park, almost accepted the marriage proposal of a French Canadian lumberjack from Yellowknife, yanno- normal everyday teenage kid stuff...

So at age 21 I was all grown up and worldly.

'Round about year 30, everything started going to hell in a handbasket.

Turned out things weren't really black and white after all- there were like a million shades of gray.

Turned out marriage sometimes doesn't last forever no matter what you promise or how hard you try to make it work. Things like alcoholism and abuse are really "extenuating circumstances" and no matter how much you want them to go away, no matter how much you try to pray them away, they stick around.

So at age 33 I was divorced, with a house I couldn't afford and 2 children.

So at age 33.1 I did the exact wrongest thing and married again for all the wrongest reasons.

By age 35 I was divorced again and in Texas- the only good thing to come of that marriage was the move to Texas.

For here I met my current husband and recieved the blessing of a new start- a new marriage and a new baby at the age of 40.

And I make jokes, telling people my childrens' ages- almost 29, almost 24, and just turned 10- give it a minute for them to realize I was almost in the clear, those olders were almost grown, and I say "Ya. I know. What was I THINKING????"

I tell people that only the young should have babies- not because of the sheer energy needed, although there is that- but because youth is blessedly ignorant.

When my older 2 kids got sick as babies, I was concerned, and worried, but not too much. I walked the floor with their feverish little selves and thought "They are sick, but they'll get better".

When Alec got sick as a baby, I was concerned, and worried, and walked the floor with his feverish little self and thought "People die every day, and alot of them are babies".

Because here's the thing.

At 21 I had not lived. Not really. For really living means being aware that this thing called life isn't forever. Someday we'll stop- someday we'll all stop.

I read once that when you reach the half century mark, Life stops giving you things and starts taking them away.

While I don't believe that completely, since I am sure to always try new things, meet new people, go new places- an idle mind and body do get old- I am aware now more than ever that every sun sets on a day that will never be repeated.

One more grain of sand through my hour-glass.

You'd think that realization would make me WANT to go back- call Do Overs on alot of my life and be able to do things less...stupidly.

Yet everything I've done, even (and sometimes especially) the stupid things, have made me who I am, shown me what's important and what's useless bullshit, made me acutely aware of the value of things that have no price tag or blue book.

I'm 50. And graying. And pear-shaped. And tired.

I'm crabby more than I should be, and impatient with those I love more than I should be, and so ashamed of both traits. Even while sniping at my loved ones I think to myself "How on earth did I ever get so lucky to have these wonderful brilliant funny dear people in my life?"

I realize this and am able to relish every little good thing in my life only from the perspective of age, of aging, of being aged.

And I wouldn't be 21 again for all the tea partiers in Kentucky.

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