man… my brain was going overtime… Every single thing I saw seemed to represent a road not taken, a path not fully appreciated, a door, once open and now forever closed.
not sure why, but taking max on a walk through my old stomping grounds was a pretty intense experience. I watched the young couples holding hands, the scholars walking and discussing, the undergraduates moving in groups and testing out grown up identities… I was struck… in some ways it was like a weird trip back in time to the What Might Have Been…
I noticed things like the beautiful skin of the girls, and the strong bodies of the young men beside them. and I thought of how untested they were by time… Time which makes muscles soften, faces wrinkle, and shows in every part of our being.
I noticed their freedom, the way in which the day and the weekend appeared to stretch ahead of them as time to fill or not fill, as they saw fit.
and I was a bit jealous… ok, more than a bit… I would never give up my max, the miracle that made me believe in miracles. but to be able to go back in time and live some of those days with the knowledge that things all turn out well, and to be able to revel in the day without worrying about the future, ahhhh… Yes, i would do that in a heartbeat.
So much of what I saw in them was of the moment. Just a snapshot in time of youth and potential and hope. Because so much of youth is about the future. And each of them to me looked like the future they saw was as shiny as they were. of course, I know nothing of their inner monologue, the one in which the brilliant ones question their every conclusion and the beauties stare at imagined imperfections for hours… However, for me, the future seemed murky and the future was scary. sometimes it appeared to yawn in front of me, open mouthed like the alligators that Max so adores now…
and in worrying about the future,far too often i forgot to enjoy the present… I think that in walking through the square, sun shining, what I was actually thinking was how much I hoped they would remember that day. The day when, as a gorgeous young woman, they sat on a bench and read, holding hands with that gorgeous young man who looked at them with so much adoration in his eyes. I wanted to tell them, “remember this… remember how it feels to live in your body at this exact moment. How good it feels to run, how exciting it is to learn, how much of the world is open to you at this exact moment in time.”
I didn’t… I kept it to myself. I have tried to make the point in the past, to limited success. A dear and much younger friend of mine shared with me that she and her husband were planning to start trying for a baby… She asked me if I had any advice, I am sure looking for something wise, something about timing intercourse or monitoring ovulation. I told her, “yes… take pictures of your body… .Because , it will never be the same. and you will find it difficult to remember how it used to be.”
It was the tip of the iceberg. I could not find a way to fully encompass for her the enormity of how her life was about to shift. But I wanted her to remember…And enjoy the life she had for the moment, rather worrying about the future.I wanted her to have a reminder of what it felt like when she was one of those girls walking in the sunshine…Of course, the impact on the body is simply the easiest to document. My brain is sagging, and my heart has wrinkles, but there is no possible way to document that….
I spent alot of my life looking ahead with varying degrees of fear. It is actually my greatest regret, that I spent so much time not living in the moment, but instead worrying about the weeks, months, and years to come.
And, in the long run, the worrying was useless. things happened and I reacted to those things. And it was those reactions that made all the difference. My plans… well, they say that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans for your future. I feel good about the hours of amusement I have provided Him or Her.
I spent so much time making plans, primary plans, secondary plans, contingency plans… and then barely even noticing as those plans fell to the wayside, so busy was I reacting to reality.
And so, in thinking about that walk through the Square, maybe what I actually want to do is to make sure that, 20 years from now when I am walking down a street and past a playground, and I see parents of little ones, that I can remember what it felt like to be in that exact place, to feel the soft little hands in mine, to remember the way my body felt, its strength and grace as it lifted and carried the dearest thing in life close to my heart.
I would not trade what I have now for all the choices in the world. Although there are doors that have closed to me, the ones that opened have revealed both joy and sorrow that have shaped me, molded me, and changed me in ways that the smooth skinned, slim bodied young woman of the square could not even imagine.
Tonight, when I hold max’s solid little body against me for his fierce good night hug, instead of worrying about tomorrow and work and weight loss and relationships, I will do my to stop in the moment, to cement the memory of his scent and sound and the feeling of his absolute trust in the strength of my arms and back to carry him to bed. I will listen to his voice and mine as we read a story. I will write it down in my heart, to pull out on the day when I can no longer lift him, in the moment I realize there has been no bedtime story in weeks. And I will use those memories to warm me, as I leave the sunshine on the square behind…