The Middle – Part Deux

Make your peace with the past…I’ve been thinking about incidents from my past a lot lately. Replaying conversations in my mind, saying or doing what I should’ve said or done, and visualizing the alternate outcome. I won a scholarship my senior year of high school. It wasn’t much, just $200 from some civic group. I don’t even remember which one. I received a letter on awards day congratulating me and instructing me to stop by their headquarters to collect the check. I never went. I don’t know why. I remember being disappointed that it was such a small amount, but still…why didn’t I go? I wish I could remember what group gave me the award. I want to write them a letter and apologize. Silly. I know. I think the letter is in my trunk where I packed away all my high school memorabilia. The trunk is in storage; so I couldn’t look if I wanted to, but things like that have surfaced in my memory, like flotsam from a long ago shipwreck.

I broke up with a boy in eighth grade because one of the “popular” girls made a comment in the gym locker room one day. She said something to the effect of, “I think it’s just so sweet that you’re going out with Brian.” But something about the way she said it indicated that she didn’t think it was sweet at all. She was making fun of me, and for some ridiculous reason known only to my 13-year-old self, I cared what that girl thought. So, I called him up that night and broke up with him. The really goofy part is that we weren’t even dating in the traditional sense. We just passed the occasional note in the hall and sat together at pep rallies and ball games. I think he called me twice, and I remember when he did that my mom commented on how polite he was. I wish I could apologize to him for hurting his feelings. There are other boys like that from my school days. Boys that I turned down whom I should’ve accepted. Boys that I dumped that I should’ve kept. I’ve thought of job interviews that I botched, arguments that I lost, and my one and only at-fault wreck. I play those memories over in my mind and pinpoint the exact moment I messed up.

I asked Jay one day not too long ago if he wouldn’t like to be young again. He asked, without taking his eyes off the Broncos, “How young are we talking?” Jay never answers any question no matter how innocuous or benign without as much information as he can possibly glean. “I don’t know…22?” Jay’s face scrunched up as though he smelled a foul odor, “And be poor again!? No, thank you! I like where we are now.”

Where we are now…which really gets to the heart of the matter. Life is a journey, a process. We aren’t meant to stay the same. We’re meant to learn and grow and change, and yes, get older. Our lives are very much like the process of writing this blog. Some of my posts just come to me and flow. I can write them in under an hour and publish them without a moment’s hesitation, but others, like this one, go through multiple phases – deletions, re-writes, edits, additions. Just like us as we age. We can fight it, or we can embrace it, maybe even enjoy it. Some of the phases of my life, I look back on with pride, for lack of a better word. Others make me cringe. I can’t believe the things I said or did, or (shudder) wore!

I am trying to enter the next phase gracefully. I’m determined to be thankful for every birthday and to look forward to each decade as an adventure. I’m finally confident and content with who I’ve become and what I believe, but I wouldn’t be who I am without all that came before. My hair may be going grey, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to break out the velour track suit and the New Balance walking shoes. I still don’t feel any different on the inside than I did at 18, and as long as that’s the case, I’m just going to keep on “L-I-V-I-N.” (Matthew McConaughey as “Wooderson” in Dazed and Confused)