|Like The Queen
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Monday, June 13, 2005 This was the weekend of Nostalgia. It began with my precious cousin Anna’s high school graduation, to which we were all invited, and which came on the heels of a week where I was pretty much peopled out. The young darlings were going but BD didn’t want to drag himself away from a pressing amount of work. Besides, he hated high school so much, he still has residual rebellion attacks, 44 years later. My own high school experience was aggressively ordinary - neither hideous, nor cinematic. Just a plod through adolescence to the world of grown ups. But the moment of graduation - ahh - that was something else. That was the first time the door opened for me on that Emerald City life of being InChargeAtLast. And the chance to revisit that experience was too much to resist.
Besides, there is nothing like being in a steel pod, at the wheel, alone and isolated from every other person in the world, the radio tuned into an oldies station (Motown, soul and grrrrrreat rock’n’roll) to help you shuck off a week’s worth of being nice to people. I admit - I didn’t try very hard to get BD to come with me - I knew that 6-8 hours of driving on a shady 2 lane highway would be better than 3 years of therapy. And it was.
But oh those beautiful coltish younglings with their excitement and energy - their anxiousness to shuck off childhood, their confidence, their strength - their youth! What a treat to watch. What a treat to remember. Lawsee how I longed to be on my own at last. To know that nobody could break bad on me, clamp down the rules, forbid me ever again. Oh, of course I understood that living with other humans means living with rules. But even a babe could see there was a vast array of choices still left, once one’s life was one’s own responsibility. Bad job? Find a different one. Bad boyfriend? ditto. Not sure your parent’s church is telling you the truth? Read about other paths to God. Feeling a little curious about art? literature? hang gliding? Well, give it a try. No money? Save it up. Don’t like hypocrisy? Then don’t live it. That choice was yours and at last you didn’t have to explain yourself, or beg, or try to convince anybody any more. That suspected flower of opportunity lay just outside the door and it was my turn to pluck it.
Wallowing in my car, my ears awash in Songs of the Sixties, I could remember how it all felt, which put me in such sympathy with my cousin and her friends it was fun to watch even strangers prance up to the dais and clutch their little blue folders. Opening the gates onto memories, though, made me sensitive to lots of other times - and other people as they are now, and as they were then. I couldn’t help but remember the sweetness of my relationship with mama as I grew up. For such a baby doter, she still made a fantastic mother for a teenage girl. She was younger than I am now, when she dropped me off at the graduation theater oh those many years ago. The woman I am now could have been that woman’s big sister - and in some ways I felt a big sister’s tenderness towards my own mama as I let the memories wash over me. And while I could identify with Saturday’s graduate, (especially well enough to find just the right graduation present) I was also wallowing in my own misery when I was the mama at LD’s graduation. For an entire summer I was just a bundle of resentment of my enemy Time, who had rolled around to the point of shoving me into forced retirement.
Each oldies but goodies song brought up pictures from my past. It was like looking through a photo album: 14 year old Bess dancing to the tune of My Girl and wishing the boy was someone else; 15 year old me, riding the bus back to my Aunt Ellen’s the summer of ‘68 with the Hollies in my ear; 16 and sitting on the beach with my girlfriends listening to the Door’s version of Light My Fire. Midnight Cowboy took me to D.C. and the summer I played a double schedule with the opening season of Wolf Trap Farms, conducted by some of the top names in music doing guest appearances. I hated the movie, but was excited that I was old enough to go to R rated films without worrying about being carded.
There are so many songs that can rocket me back to my teens. There are fewer that can hit the target of my late teens or early 20’s for by that time I had made some artistic choices that were a part of my walk away from pop culture. A scant 5 years after my own high school graduation - when I was only 4 years older than Cousin Anna - I started my real life, for, thirty years and one day ago, BD and I pitched the tent in our own big woods and started our New Life In The Country.
Yep. Yep. Yesterday was our 30 year anniversary of what BD calls Chesituxent Day, though at the time we had yet to name the place and it was still called “Over Margaret’s” by our neighbors. So after I got home, and after I’d had a nap, we opened up our hearts and our memories and our very skin, and walked down the Home Path to the campsite and reminisced. The whole time we were soaking up the sweetness that is our precious forest, sucking in the scents of swamp magnolias, listening to the symphony of tree tops in a summer breeze.
Thirty years can make some big changes in a forest. Together we argued about where the campfire was, tried to decide exactly where the shed was built, scrabbled our way down the bank to the bend in the creek where I swear I could sit and take a real bath, leaning up against the creek bank. It’s so silted up now only about 6 inches of water floats over the sandy bed, but then, 3 trees have fallen just down stream, and I am sure that’s what has built up the bottom so. We could almost smell the linseed oil that had been rubbed into Pop’s W.W.II buddy tent, where we lived for 2 months. It’s hard to realize that there are more years between today and that first night on the farm, than there were between the first night on the farm and when Pop landed on Normandy Beach with that tent.
Time. That was the theme of this weekend. Time and it’s inexorable passage. Time and the way it scatters the jewels of memories all around you. Time and the way it never runs backwards, but it allows you to carry it’s gifts forwards. All my life I looked forward to some Future Time that was better than now. I looked forward to growing up when I was a child. I looked forward to marriage and motherhood when I grew up. I looked forward to a cabin when I lived in the tent and a real house when I lived in the cabin. There always seemed some time when I would have what I want - but it was always off in the future.
Then suddenly I got there. I realized about a year ago that every dream, every wish, every desire I ever had, way those 30 years + a day ago, has come true. Oh - I still want things, still hope for bright future days, but that hunger, that longing for what was missing has at last been fulfilled. There is something indescribably delicious about giving up the quest for A Time. And for all the beauty and opportunity of youth that those high school graduates hold in their arms, I wouldn’t trade places with them for all the world. posted by Bess | 8:18 AM