Friday, November 11, 2011

11-11-11 (A Life Summarized in Five Easy Steps)

I pulled my old journal from high school to open to the entry I made on 7/7/77.  I remember sitting down at the dining room table to make it.  I just didn't remember what I wrote.  Wow.  It was underwhelming to say the least.  "Note the date.  Actually nothing splendiforous happened, but I promised I'd write on this momentous date.  It won't happen again until 11 years, one month and a day - TADAH!  I'll be - [l'es] see - 28.  Aren't you thrilled?"  Then it goes on to note that I had a check-up earlier in the day and something stalkerish about the boy I had a mad crush on.  Nothing deep, nothing to hint at a intelligent person buried in there somewhere.  Certainly nothing to hint at a dark future.  Or a bright one for that matter.  Just a teenage kid being a teenage kid.

When 8/8/88 came around, I was a wife, a mother, a worker, a college student, a dog owner, and not a journal writer any longer - who had time!?  So there is no record of how I passed that day or what my mindset was.  However, it had been a heady 11 years, one month and a day.  That was for sure.  Out of high school, out of college and then back into college, out of Montana and into Texas, finding one serious, but highly dysfunctional relationship and only having the courage to break from it by leaping to another relationship.  Less dysfunctional, that one was, but I brought all my baggage with me, so still a little rough around the edges.  Nonetheless, that one married me and we brought a kid into the mix while still trying to figure all of that other stuff out.  One can look back at that time and have little wonder that our poor child would develop issues.  But in the hot summer days of 1988, that was far from my mind.  What was on my mind was trying for another child.  I remember that almost painful biological imperative was at its height at that time.  I would watch Kelsey play alone in our backyard and nearly ache to give her a sibling.  It would only be about a month from that August day that we were on our way to another family member, still trying to figure out what it was to be adults, let alone effective parents.  I am sure if I had made a journal entry on that day, I would be equally underwhelmed with it.  In all those 11 years, was I really any better, smarter, more mature than the 17 year old who spent most of her waking moments dreaming of boys she would never know?  Sort of doubting it.

Nor would I hold out much hope for the person who met the morning of 9/9/99.  By then, Mother had moved to Texas, but was still fairly independent and had her own circle of friends and we saw one another once a week or so, but she savored her independence, and I mine.  I had my two kids, my perfect house with a pool, a career.  I had a satellite dish with NFL Sunday Ticket and was working on the streak that still exists of never missing a Steeler game.  I had a fancy title and part ownership in my company.  I would have thought I had it all figured out, of that I have no doubt.  But, the fact of the matter is, as I was about to find out, I had my eye on all the wrong balls.

I knew that by 10/10/10.  Kelsey was gone, Mother was gone, and all my illusions of being a success at life gone with them.  Because I knew by then that being successful isn't about having NFL Sunday Ticket - it's about being present for your children and family.  I could tell you by then that I hadn't been.  And, the life I thought I had put together for all of us was shot to hell, and we were trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces.  By then, we were looking to Pittsburgh as the place to start that process.  I didn't write that day.  I was busy at Austin City Limits - trying to say a fond farewell to the city I had begrudgingly called home for thirty years.

So, here I am in Pittsburgh (well, close enough) a year, one month and a day later.  So, what do I have to say about myself on this day?  Well, in some respects, I'm not that much different from the girl who wrote in her journal back in 1977.  On this day, I was all a flutter with the news that Sidney Crosby might play tonight against the Dallas Stars and crushed when I saw that he won't.  We'll be in attendance - all of my little family.  What a thrill that would have been.  So, I guess I still get sort of twitter-pated over boys I'll never actually meet, just for different reasons and with a different agenda.  And, I listen to the same music.  I all but guarantee I was listening to the Moody Blues when I wrote that journal entry back in '77.  I still do.   Just a little harder to hear it now - thirty plus years of loud rock and roll later have taken their toll.  But, in other ways, I'm so utterly different, it's hard to recognize me.  What would I say to that silly teenager sitting there at my parent's dining room table?  Besides the fact that I would someday listen to Rush, that is.  So much.  Oh so much.  I'm not sure she would listen, full of hope, ambition and dreams about her future.  Like many kids her age, she was pretty sure she had it all figured out and could handle anything.  I envy her confidence.  I regret her short sightedness.

Where will I be on 12/12/12?  The future has yet to be written.  Hopefully it will include Sidney Crosby in some form or fashion.

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