I'm a sucker for a nostalgic occasion or a reason to reflect. In my twenties, my New Year's Eves bordered on maudlin, and every milestone makes me sentimental. I'm unlikely to have a five-year-plan, but I have twenty-five years worth of letters stashed in my closet.
I'm returning to my alma mater for my 20th reunion on Friday. For someone like me, it's an occasion to comb through old photos, pull out my remaining mix tapes, and text 20-year-old inside jokes to my college friends. While at the reunion--at least before the sun goes down and the cocktails begin to flow--I will be giddy reuniting with friends and laughing about college escapades. Sitting at home right now, I'm reflecting on how my life has turned out so far.
When I was 22, I couldn't imagine being 42, but I did think I had some idea of the way things would turn out. How far off the mark was I? In the vital statistics department--location, job, hobbies, and interests--I pretty much blew it. I didn't fail to realize any dream and I'm happy with the disparity, but I was pretty far off.
I planned to be a career lawyer (and probable working mom) in the Southeast. I last fit that description in 1998. Instead, I'm a mom who's lived in New England, the Midwest, and the West Coast over the last fifteen years and hasn't been employed in almost ten. When I'm not managing kids, I devote my extra time to new creative pursuits, most of which didn't interest me until I was in my forties. Even at my tenth reunion, I couldn't have predicted most of that.
When I was 22, I also naively thought that what was most important to me--my relationships--would always be a part of my life. Almost without exception, I was right on that one.
- I liked my parents then, and I still do. Now that I am independent and a parent myself, I appreciate them more than when they were paying the bills, making the rules, and actively earning that appreciation.
- Twenty years ago, I was dating a boy. My dad had already asked (sarcastically, I think) whether the boy was "the one," and I'd responded that I thought he was. That boy and I now share a name, a home, two kids, and a life.
- I thought my college friends would be a part of my life forever. I was right. We don't live near each other, rarely see one another, and rarely speak on the phone. Thanks to technology that didn't exist twenty years ago, we likely are closer than we would be otherwise. I "talk" to many of them by email, text, and Facebook quite frequently and know that, if I need them, they will be there.
The relationships are critical. I think that I took their longevity for granted, but I'm pleased to report they have stood the test of time. The rest of it--where I live and what I do for a living--is fungible, at least as far as my happiness is concerned. As long as I have people in my life who love me and support me, the rest will fall into place.
Enough of the reflections. Bring on the hugs, the drinks, and the dancing.