I am Her(e)
When I graduated high school, I had no clue of where I would be twenty years from then. I just knew I would be far far away from Loserville (the nickname teenagers assigned to Lewisville). Ironically, it only took six short and studious years before the magnet pulled the paper clip—the magnet being Loserville and the paper clip being me. Except that as an adult, Loserville became Lusterville, that bright and shiny place in which I would change lives and reside forever in students’ memories.
But what about my memory? And what about those twenty years later?
As I knock on the door of 40 years old, I wonder if I have done all that I want to do with my life thus far and if I will continue to do what I want to with the remainder of my years. I mentioned in my previous blog, entitled “A New Leash on Life,” that I live with depression. Tack onto that perfectionism, and you begin to understand why some days it’s easier to remain in bed than it is to throw off the covers, pad barefoot into the bathroom, fumble around for my glasses, and peer into the future of the day only to find failure because perfection is a mere impossibility.
Don’t get me wrong. The rational, logical side of me understands the vast accomplishments that build my life’s resume. Top ten percent of my graduating class. Bachelor’s degree at a top university. Secondary teaching certificate. Owner of more paperback books than the new iPad could even dream of storing. Professional bodybuilding title holder.
I’m also divorced. Single. No kids. Well, I have one very special furr-kid that I wouldn’t trade for anything or anyone in the world. But there are days when I wonder if my status as an only child and only grandchild signals a later status of only senior citizen. My mother, in her efforts to comfort me during one sobbing sniffling moment of self pity, said to me, “Some people don’t find their soul mate until later in life, like in their 60’s or 70’s.” Thanks, Mom. No…really, thanks. It means my glory days are yet to come…in a nursing home once I have Alzheimer’s and a bad perm and can’t remember the bald man down the hall so of course I’d be happy to give him a second chance and have dinner with his dentures in the dining hall again.
Where am I going with this? I think it’s just that when we end high school, we experience such a juxtaposition of emotions and occurrences. On one hand, we see deep into our later years. We have big dreams and expansive skies. On the other hand, we see only this very moment, feeling the earth will shatter into pieces if the next three seconds don’t go exactly as originally planned. I remember graduation day, partly because I was wearing a hideous, three-quarter sleeve, floral, poofy-shoulder dress with a bad perm that made me resemble a brunette Annie (or dark-haired poodle…take your pick), and I was sweating profusely as I sat next to my grandmother and thought, “I can’t wait for the rest of my life to begin, and today is the day that sparks the display.”
As my thighs stuck to the vinyl of the station wagon’s backseat, I never once thought that my grandmother might not be alive one day. And as I later traipsed, in my Payless heels, along the University of North Texas Mean Green stage to take ahold of my diploma, it never occurred to me that my mother might rely on me during the time that my grandmother was steadfastly fading from our existence.
When she died, I crumpled. And like a crumpled piece of paper that can never have its creases ironed smooth ever again, I am still wrinkled in her absence. I do have to admit that the pain is no longer as deep and the hole no longer so voluminous. But there are still those moments when all I wish is for her to be back here: telling me to put my sweater on because she is cold; telling me women should be soft and squishy, not hard as rock like me; telling me that I shouldn’t work so hard; telling me that if she were a boy, she would date me. And it is in moments like these that I whisper to myself, she is me and I am her(e), and I need to take advantage of today so that my tomorrow is as good as her yesterday.
I have 46 years and change before I turn the age she was when she died. I better make these years as good as can be. I guess in that respect, it’s okay to be a bit of a perfectionist and not just settle comfortably into my purple, micro-fiber sofa chair and tell myself that I’ve done remarkably well these past 39 years and change. It is quite alright to push to be something more to other somebodies…and even to myself. I think that’s why crossroads, like the one that seemingly looms in my near future, are good things. They keep us active, keep us guessing, keep us choosing, keep us living. Whether it’s one path or the other that I will take in life, I can guarantee this: it’s bound to be entertaining.
I am her(e).