Take Me Back

I just finished a cute, and apropos, book called Time Flies by Claire Cook. It’s about Melanie, a recently divorced woman on her way to her high school reunion. My reunion (that I am happily skipping) is in November so I empathized with Melanie’s quandaries. When she gets an email from her ex-boyfriend, she looks through her yearbook and realizes she doesn’t remember most of them and other than a few best friends, only vaguely remembers the others. She flirts with the ex via email and decides he is reason enough to attend. She eventually learns that imagination is so much better than reality and he is an ex for a reason.

While the actual reunion is a minor plot point, the events leading up to it are more interesting. And that is exactly where I find myself. At age 48, my life is so much more interesting than getting together with people I don’t know, barely know, or cut out of my life for reasons. Like Melanie, I spent some time looking at names on the facebook group and I honestly couldn’t remember 95% of them. Of the ones I do remember, it’s either because we were great friends or because I couldn’t stand them. I’m actually only personally involved with a handful of people anymore. While I’m still facebook friends with several, it is because I like who they are now, not because I remember anything about them from high school.

I had one friendship of 25 years that ended six years ago when I got tired of her judging my life and particularly my parenting, one of 37 years that ended after the election. I have one of 38 years that is still going strong. Whether they are still active friends or not, the point is that I stay in contact with the people who mean something to me.

Maybe reunions are great for people who went to schools that weren’t so deeply divided into cliques, but my high school was passionately divvied up into immutable circles. Although I’ve had several people tell me that things are different and people change, my ten year experience was that yes, people change but generally not for the better. The assholes became more asshole-ish, the bitches bitchier. People I was relatively friendly with had so many issues, it wasn’t worth getting caught up in the toxicity. I went back because I thought I was in a good place in my life, but going from personal success to being treated like the socially ostracized geek girl that I had been was more than a little jarring. It took me six months to emotionally recover from a six hour experience.

I’m not saying people can’t change. I know they can. I’m not the same person I was a year ago, let alone 30, or even 20, years ago. But it took decades of effort to get here and I just don’t see 200 people putting in that much effort.¬†As for me now? I’m far from perfect, but I am finally happy with who I am, where I am, what I am doing. I don’t need to show up or show out. When I’m asked if I’m going to the reunion, I truly mean it when I say, “No thanks, I’m good.”

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From Both Sides Now

It’s my favorite kind of spring morning. There’s a light drizzle outside, enough that I can hear it dripping from the eaves. I have a warm kitty snuggled next to me, gently snoring. On the other side of him is my daughter, curled in a ball underneath an IKEA throw, breathing deeply. In the living room, I can hear my dog snorting and making her weird sleep noises. The house is quiet, without any electronics other than my computer to ruin the silence.

I love these days. It’s the simplest things that I treasure, because I know they will not last. I don’t just mean that pretty soon my husband will be up grinding coffee, and the dogs will be darting in and out of the dog door. I mean I know that soon, my daughter will be off on her own, no longer curled up next to me. The warmer our days become, the less the cat will want to snuggle. For nine months out of the year, he can barely stand to be touched. As for Pinky, she is getting older; she is eight, which is about two thirds of her life span, if we’re lucky.

Life is fleeting, even though for Aubrey, her launch date can’t come soon enough. We have no idea where she will end up, be it in Massachusetts, Connecticut, or New York, but either way, she’ll be 2000 miles from me, once again.

I’m not so worried about her (or me) this time. She’s older, wiser, more mature, and is better about letting people know where she’s going and who she’s with. She does her own shopping, buys her own meds, makes her own appointments, but most importantly, she makes her own friends now. Before, she tended to isolate herself. Since she started working at TdB, she has blossomed into a confident creature, albeit a very messy one. I feel sorry for any roommate that is stuck with her, because she is still a slob.

This time, I know that I will survive and once again create my own new world. Thanks to Meetup, I have several groups that I have joined (though not attended) that guarantee I will find people who share my interests. I look forward to having Aubrey’s bedroom turned into an office for Ron as he returns to school to learn to be a database administrator. Most of all, I am excited to have MY room back, without Aubrey’s mess taking up half the space.

There will still be a place for her here, as I am turning the playhouse into a little guestroom/cottage, with a daybed, small dresser, desk, and shelves. A few weeks ago, Will helped me clear it out and prime away the green, pink, purple, and blue. Now it is a soft light teal, with white trim and denim curtains. With the ceiling fan and a tower fan, it will be quite comfortable, even on the hottest days, because it is in the shade of the neighbor’s tree. There is a mountain laurel right outside the door, already blooming its giant grape-smelling falls of purple. When it’s not being used as a guestroom, it will be my writer’s cottage, although I don’t know how much writing I will actually get done.

Aubrey and I have already planned to do lots of visiting. I’ll split my time between here and there; a compromise that will let me be in New England part of the year, while living in whatever state Ron and I can agree to. He finally said that he doesn’t want to live in New England, and because he’ll have spent 13 years of his life living in Texas to be with me, I feel like it’s his turn to choose where we live next. At the moment, New Mexico and Colorado are at the top of the list. I have no urge to live anywhere near Colorado Springs, nor do I want to live in the Denver metro area (or its suburbs). There is a hospital in Estes Park, which means there are medical groups that will need an accountant/analyst/DBA. I’m not stressing about it yet because it is still at least two years off, thanks to our sudden doubled debt due to all our dental bills.

This childless time around, I intend to work on me. The dental disaster was a catalyst for improvement. I’ve “let myself go” over the last five years or so, and now I want myself back. I will have straight, perfect white teeth once again. I don’t have a single wrinkle, but I did talk to my dermatologist who diagnosed me with a blechy skin condition that’s been bothering me, so I will no longer have a bright red, oily face. Next is contacts. Thanks to giving up soda and most of the sugary stuff Aubrey and I consumed, I have been losing weight, and I plan to help that along with exercise of some kind. If nothing else, dancing with Will a few times a week should do it. At some point, I will find a new hairstyle and start wearing makeup again.

Actually, to be honest, the dental disaster only spurred part of it. The other part is Will constantly telling me, “I love you like a sister, but…” That’s his way of not so gently saying he doesn’t find me attractive (which is a VERY good thing, and is what makes our friendship work…that, and my NEVER meeting any of the carousel of women that he sleeps with). I want to be 45 and gorgeous. I think Ron will be pretty happy with that, especially since exercise has bonus benefits beyond weight loss.

44 is creeping up very quickly (next month…EEEEEK!!!), but I am ready to meet it with open arms. I always said my life would begin at 42. I guess I was just off by a couple of years.

“But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost but something’s gained
In living every day”