When I was a junior in college at Penn State, I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine about her older sister. Her older sister had just had a baby, and had given my friend some advice:
"Go out in college as much as you can - resist the urge to stay in, even if you are tired. Because someday, when you are rocking your baby to sleep in the middle of the night, those are the memories that you will come back to."
This advice haunted me, but I probably didn't need it. I went out all the time in college on my own accord. I had a blast.
But 10 years later, when I had just had my own baby, I thought about this admonition. And I didn't really find it to be true. When I was up rocking Braden to sleep, I wasn't thinking about getting drunk at frat parties. I was more focused on "when on earth can I go back to sleep and how many hours of sleep will I end up getting tonight? Four? Five? Oh God, please six?" Sometimes I thought about doughnuts or when I would make time to get my hair highlighted. But mostly, just sleep.
Lately, however, I have found that I have been having intermittent flashbacks to my youth. Not while rocking anyone to sleep, but just throughout my regular day. They usually are prompted by hearing a random song. So, for example:
Hearing "One More Time" by Daft Punk while in line at Starbucks:
- Flashback to dancing with my friend Lauren at a bar in Mykonos, Greece in 2001.
Hearing "So Yesterday" by Hilary Duff at Casey's gym class earlier this week:
- Flashback to my husband and I sitting on the sand at the Full Moon Party in Ko Phangan,Thailand in 2005.
Seeing Sugar Ray perform "I Just Wanna Fly" in Disney World (I did not pay for this, btw, it was part of the Food and Wine Festival)
- Flashback to a 1998 fraternity formal where I stood next to a fireplace all night and ended up smelling like chimney.
And so on and so forth.
I think it's natural to have random memories come to mind every once in a while, but lately I feel like they are creeping up more and more, and causing a somewhat emotional reaction. So maybe my friend's sister wasn't all that far off. Maybe it just took a few years to catch up with me.
I have very few regrets. I did go out all the time in college. I studied abroad. Then I lived abroad. Then I traveled - a ton. Then I went to law school, and still managed to go out all the time and study abroad and travel a ton.
For a while, life was a real adventure.
Then, with the start of a legal career, real life started. And it's not that I stopped having fun, or going out, or even traveling. But somewhere along the way, the adrenaline diminished. The party was over.
And it had to be, right? I even admit it got boring after a while. A bar is a bar is a bar. A city in Europe is just another city, and after a while even those start to look the same. And as much as I loved living out of a backpack for months at a time, I have to admit that that ship has certainly sailed.
But lately, perhaps because of the dichotomy of what my life was once, and what it is now, I am missing that part of myself. The me that was outgoing and gregarious and fun and brave and always up for an adventure. And I find myself wondering how it is possible at all to feel a bit of that again, and still be a 33 year old housewife.
My last post was about the books I have been reading lately, but I neglected to mention that the current book I am reading is a book written by my father. It is unpublished, and is in manuscript form. I am doing a first read for him, and doing a bit of editing along the way.
The book is about my dad's experience in the Peace Corps in India back in the 1960s. Although my dad had told me about his experiences there, to read about it and learn the details is fascinating. Can you imagine going into an Indian Village 40 years ago, with no plumbing and no sanitation and no phones and no air conditioning and no working knowledge of the language? And completely assimilating yourself in the culture for two plus years?
It all sounds so awesome.
Part of me would do anything to have an adventure like that. To join the Peace Corps. To volunteer in the Third World. To take some risks and live freely and save the world in my own little way.
But, we all know I won't do that. I can write about doing it, but I won't do it. Such is life, and such is growing older. And having responsibilities and mortgages and a husband and kids. All things I love (well, maybe not the mortgage part), and all things I wanted.
Perhaps this is just a process of reflection that all people go through as they get older - a reconciliation of who I was, who I am, and what I want next. All natural, all okay. And I'll just enjoy the memories as they come, and maybe secretly plan a trip to Asia. And definitely stop listening to adult alternative radio stations.
Now, back to my suburban day. American Idol is on, peoples.