It is day two. Well, at least I tried to get my first post in before midnight yesterday. Anyway, day two, and three followers! Of course, one is my husband, one is a relative, and one is one of my best friends, but at this point, I am not inclined to be picky. Especially because I am so new to this whole blogging thing. I still have a lot to figure out. Patience, please. Besides, who really needs more than a loving husband, family and a best friend?
On to the topic for today. Remember how, when you were a kid you thought that, when you grew up, you became a (fill in the blank – fireman, teacher, mother, doctor, cowboy, rock star) and then your life began. And once that happened, you were an adult and you were THERE. Looking from the child’s vantage, “THERE” was anyplace you could dream of — a castle, a ranch, a New York apartment, the White House. As you got older, you realized it wasn’t quite that simple. Not everyone could live in a castle, after all. You might have to adjust your expectations, and you might just live in a suburban house. But once you did, you were THERE. You no longer had worries because, hey, you were THERE. And all of the evidence seemed to suggest that this was true because, look at your parents. They were THERE. By all appearances, they were who they were, they didn’t change, they didn’t worry, they didn’t dream for something different. We thought that, when they filled in the blank as children, they filled it with “middle manager” or “housewife” or “accountant”. Yeah, right.
It is no secret that the midsection of your life is about the gradual acceptance of the fact that, as Gertrude Stein said (in a different context), “there is no there there.” It just so happens that I am squarely in what I hope turns out to be the midsection of my life (ironically a time when I find my self agonizing about my own midsection, but that is another topic…). I just had a birthday. I am not 50. But, to paraphrase another Sally, I’m gonna be 50. Someday. I vividly remember when my dad turned 50 because it was the year we moved from Michigan to California, and I was 12. I firmly believe that certain stages of your life form your clearest memories, and years 12 and 13 are those years for me. Well, one thing I remember from that time is that my dad was THERE. He knew what he was doing. He certainly experienced no feelings of fear or anxiety about moving his family from the town of 2,000 people in Michigan where he grew up (as did his father and his father’s father) to California. Nor did he worry that it was a mistake to go from being the president of a small family company to being the president of a much larger national company. Nor were there second thoughts about moving his kids, including one son, who was a senior in high school, cross country, three times in a year and 1/2. Why would there be any uncertainty? He was an adult. He was THERE. So I’ll be THERE when I turn 50, right?
Ok, so you get my point. The world is a series of constants to you when you are a kid because you just don’t know any better. Now my husband and I find ourselves waiting for the THERE that just doesn’t come (and that we know won’t come — we have just so gotten into the habit of waiting!). Now we are the parents, with two kids in college, both brimming with their potential and possibilities, and two more coming down the pike with dreams of being a rock star and playing professional baseball. We’re THERE, right? Not so much. Instead, I am in a place where my goal is just to try to recapture a bit of that feeling of hope and possibility that our kids are experiencing while recognizing that life is about the journey, not the destination. That is all great and good, but hard to do when sometimes that journey just sucks, and there will continue to be endless laundry and bills and illnesses and failures and deaths and worries, worries, worries. But it doesn’t always suck. In fact, most of the time it doesn’t. And even when it does suck, there are things for which to be grateful. I lost my dad several years ago, and my mom just last year. That sucked. It still sucks. But I was privileged enough to be with them both through the process and to be holding each of their hands at the end. I am a fuller person as a result. I now see my parents as people, with worries and stresses, with failures and triumphs, not as the cardboard cutouts of grown ups that I used to see them as. None of this gets me THERE, of course. But in a way that is hard to articulate, I feel closer. So maybe that’s it. Maybe THERE is when you come to complete acceptance that there is no THERE, and I am just starting to feel the glimmers of understanding. Hmmm. Oh well. I have to go do some laundry.