I have these “moments” every now and then where I seem to be hyper aware of being in the moment: remembering the sights, sounds, smells, enjoying the present. The first moment that I can truly recall like this was when I was hmmm… a sophomore in college. I was driving around my little college town and breathing in what must have felt like the “freedom” of being a grown-up. Of course I had no idea in my 19-year-old head what being an adult actually meant, but I was kind of trying it out. Like trying on clothes. I wanted to see what it was like, see if I could do it. I remember that I had my windows down in my car, I remember what the wind felt like and that I was listening to a lot of Green Day at that point. It was springtime and warm outside and the air smelled sweet because the cherry blossom trees were in bloom. I had a car phone. (LOL! Right? That’s how long ago this was. A CAR phone.) I felt so important because I had a phone. IN my car. I was obviously not supposed to use it except for emergencies because it was absurdly expensive per minute, but still. Fun to have. I remember that I used to love checking my mail at the college post office because it was the first time I had an address that was just my own.
The next “moment” that I recall capturing was when we first moved to Chicago. We had an adorable apartment on the north side of the city. It had french doors opening to the dining room, a completely square kitchen and zero closet space. I loved that apartment. That is where DH and I really stretched our wings. We had to “sink or swim” in the big city and we learned how to swim together. Amidst all the other 20-somethings trying to figure out life and how to use the transit system. We were very broke, so we spent a lot of time playing video games at home or playing rpgs (role playing games) with our friends. I remember playing Theme Hospital on the playstation game system and feeling so content in my little apartment, 650 miles from my family. We ate a lot of macaroni and cheese (from a box) and ramen noodles. It was hard, really really hard, but also satisfying in the way that you might be creating a sculpture and you’re trying to get the vision in your head worked out in tangible form.
Five apartments, 6 jobs and 2 college degrees later, my oldest son was born. He was beautiful. A skinny baby with long spindly legs and big blue eyes. If I think back on it now, I can see his personality just as it is now, but emerging through his little baby gestures and sounds. I remember the first time I cared for him by myself, completely alone after our visiting family left and DH was at work. I had not gone back to the office yet, and there I was with this little newborn. Had anyone even checked if this was ok? That I had this little baby? What was happening? It was surreal. I was sitting in an ugly-patterned orange wingback chair, a hand-me-down from family. I loved that chair. It wasn’t a rocker, but it was super comfortable, and most importantly, it fit in our tiny 2-bedroom apartment. DS made little cooing sounds and wiggled around in my arms. His little hat was too big and would slide around on his head like a lopsided sailor hat until I straightened it out again. I was so astounded that I was responsible for this little life. I had just sat down on this enormous rollercoaster of a ride without an end. I didn’t even have time to think about whether or not I could do it, I constantly had to keep up with actually doing it: the care, the love, the food, the diapers, stimuli, tummy time, eventually my workplace and socialization. If I stopped to think about it anymore I would become overwhelmed, so I just looked at that little baby with the lopsided hat and green dinosaur slippers and smiled and cuddled and held on to him for dear life. He’s 8 now. I still love to watch him sleep.
So is this how we recall life in a series of flashbacks like this where you hit highlights and occasionally look up from all the busy-ness and see where you are before digging in again to “real life” and work and details? What a ride. I wonder what’s around the next bend?
Be Fierce. Buckle your safety belts.