Someone once told me I was doing it wrong. DOING IT WRONG. It doesn’t matter what “IT” was. I saw a quote that says “Just because someone is on a different path than you does not mean they are lost.” That person who told me I was doing it wrong….she was wrong. She was very wrong. I have made a million mistakes, some bad decisions, said some words I regretted, hurt some people I shouldn’t have, and all of it has me right here, right now. And there’s no place else Im supposed to be.
I think I’ve gone through life thinking there is a perfect whole I am aiming for. A goal. A final destination. So Ive hurried through time trying desperately to get to that perfect destination. It took 41 years to realize there is no perfect final destination. There is no final perfect whole. That dumbass saying about life being about the journey and NOT the destination is true. Dammit. It is. There is no perfect whole final destination. But there are some very perfect moments. The secret to life is recognizing them, slowing down, and enjoying them.
Sunday night I drove home from the cheer competition alone with Maddie asleep in the car next to me. It was dark and very, VERY snowy and slick and a bit scary. Just me and the radio for a few hours was nice though. And I looked at her curled up in a ball in her cheer uniform with a blanket and thought…this is one. This is one of those perfect moments. She’ll have her drivers license in just over a year and she won’t need me to drive her anywhere. That is such a weird realization.
I remember when I had Andy and Patrick had gone back to work and it was one of the first days I was home alone with an 18 month old and a 2 week old infant. And I remember rocking him in a chair while Maddie toddled around and for the first time in my life, at age 29, I felt like a Mom. Im not sure why it didn’t hit me like that with Maddie. Believe me I would have killed anyone who harmed my kids. Still would. But that overwhelming feeling of “God I am someone’s mother…I am two people’s mother” hit me in that moment. It was one of those perfect moments of panic and joy and fear and gratefulness all in one.
A few years later I was sitting in my parents driveway in a lawn chair drinking a Coors Light with my Dad. We were the only two outside and Charlie Robison was playing on the stereo (yes the garage stereo). We were discussing politics and music and how to change the world. It was important shit. All the important shit is figured out over Coors Light in a lawn chair. We sat well past dark and stared at the stars. Perfect. PERFECT. Moment.
In the past few years I’ve slowed down. Mentally I mean. And no jokes please. Im just as quick witted as I’ve always been so shut it…I mean Ive slowed my brain down, calmed the rush up there. Its been so nice. I truly honestly enjoy the moments more now. I don’t rush through things like I did. I don’t wish the days away. I don’t hurry. And I like it. Its ironic that this most beautiful and favorite time in my life is also filled with crap. Maddie’s health problems, Patrick’s brain rot. But somehow in the midst of all of that…and maybe BECAUSE of all of that Ive come to accept that there is a sadness in acceptance that your ending may not be the “Happy Fairytale” that you dreamed of or expected. It is sad. But acceptance is good because it leads to new discoveries. There may be no perfect ending…but there are absolutely perfect, beautiful, amazing moments that take your breath away if you let them. If you slow down and SEE them.
I’ve been lucky enough to have many. I had one in college, with an old friend. I had one at my wedding. I had one in high school at a football game while cheering. I had one on a mountain recently. I’ve had 42 years of many perfect moments. I know I’ll have many more. And now I know Ill actually be RIGHT enough and happy enough and slowed down enough to recognize them. And I’d give up a perfect ending any day for a million perfect moments.
We got home last night from a seven day visit to Texas. Home. To Colorado. Why I feel guilty saying that is a mystery but I do. A little. Or maybe just worried that I’ll offend someone. But I do have two places I feel at home now. And I guess I really don’t need to apologize for that.
Seven days of family, friends, babies, fried food, tacos and beer. I am full. My heart is full and I already miss them so much.
But Im gonna go ahead and confess some things I realized about going home. And most importantly I know now…you can’t.
First of all as I crossed the state line into Texas there was no red carpet, no clapping, and no cheesy music from a John Hughes film playing in the background. Slightly disappointed but whatever, people are busy right. After 13 hours in a car with my family and dog I would’ve been happy to pull into a driveway in Kazakhstan. You know why? I bet THEY have a Fuzzy’s Taco!
We ate ourselves sick, got to see many of our friends and play with our nieces and nephew. I got to hug my Mom. I got to make fun of my brother. I got to see my grandma. I got ice tea brought to me ALREADY SWEETENED! I ate tacos till I burst. I got to see my Beachbody Coaches that live in that area. I got to drink GIANT beers with Kristen and Michelle and Erika and Janna. I got to shop at a MALL!!! I knew the Cowboy game would be aired without even thinking about it. And I got to watch them DESTROY the Colts. My lips got unchapped (Texas humidity). It was a good trip. It was a great trip.
I planned to go “visit my Dad”. God thats so creepy sounding. I hate that. He was buried in a mosoleum thing in Carrollton near my grandpa. He is also near my friend Nancy and my brother’s friend, Clayton. I always say hi to them when I go too. I planned on going. I really did. But I didn’t. Its a very pretty place. His name is etched in a pretty stone with the dates on it and its actually eye level for me so I don’t look like a moron shouting to a wall six feet above my head. Yes I know-you dont ACTUALLY have too speak directly to the stone. Sometimes I can be literal. And I want to make sure he hears me- he had selective hearing like most men.
It’s ok to laugh- really.
But I didn’t go. Instead I asked my husband to drive me to the house I grew up in on Addington Drive in Carrollton. I lived there from the time I was 5 until I moved away to college when I was 18. It is so full of memories it is bursting. I wanted to knock on the door and tell the people that live there now all the secrets that house holds. How important it is. That in 1984 I convinced my sister she was Mary Lou Retton and she should double vault off of the swing set. She broke both arms. I got in BIG trouble. That the greatest version of suburban Flash Dance EVER was recreated on the patio in the summer of ’85 with the help of my sister’s friends Lori and Kelly (and Im sure I made Lance dance too). That my bedroom window screen pops off quite easily- and I snuck out of that sucker more times than I can count. That I spent so many hours on that front step in the middle of the night talking…to whomever showed up at my window…. That I could turn my car off and let it coast just to the right spot in front of the house at 2:00am so they couldn’t hear me coming home. (Though Im pretty sure Dad ALWAYS knew). That the bald spot in the yard remains from my attempt at “chewing tobacco” that resulted in vomit-fest 1990. That the front yard held so many damn signs screaming about our accomplishments it was sad. Kelly’s soccer and cheer signs, my cheer signs, Nick’s “Im not in jail” signs. LOL Kidding little brother (well not really but whatever sign he had Im sure he stole).
The trees are bigger. The house looks so much smaller. The step I sat on countless nights for hours on end talking looks so tiny. I wish – oh how I wish I’d recorded those conversations. Or maybe not. I think now it all belonged right there at 1905 Addington Dr., right then from 1979-1991. Right exactly when the trees were short enough to see all the way down the block. Right when Depeche Mode played in my car while we sat on the steps drinking…sweet tea…ya…sweet tea. Those conversations and those people and those smells and that music and those feelings belong RIGHT THERE. To that time. And they pass and new memories are made. You cannot go home again. You can’t. Because it is a feeling and a moment that can’t be recaptured and you shouldn’t try. And that’s ok. Enjoy the very moment you are in right now because this moment will become a beautiful memory too.
And we drove around to the alley behind my house. And I took a picture of some more concrete with some names in it. In 1980 my Dad and Grandpa poured a third driveway. He etched my name in it because I was 7 years old and I “helped” pour the driveway. He wrote “JENNY ’80”. Then I think he felt bad so he added the two other stupid sibling’s names but let it be known they DID NOT HELP POUR THE DRIVEWAY. And WAY more close to my Dad I felt than in any cemetery….
We all have them. Some of us have a bazillion of them. T-shirts. Wadded up in the drawer or at the bottom of your closet or shoved up on a shelf. I think it must be some sort of American thing to reward people with t-shirts. I have to say I blogged recently about how music can transport you to another place or time. It can remind you of someone or someplace. It can make you cry and laugh and sing out loud. It engages your sense of sound to the point that it creates a feeling. Well…I realized today that a simple t-shirt can do exactly the same.
I have sooo many t-shirts. There’s ones I bought on trips to remember the trip by. There’s shirts from my kid’s sports teams I wore to support them at games. There’s a few new ones from Beachbody I’m super proud of because I EARNED them by completing a workout program. I even had so many sorority t-shirts in college that my grandmother made a quilt out of them for me. I adore & treasure this quilt. Not just because each and every t-shirt reminds me of a particular party (well the ones I can remember geez I was 21 & stupid but whatever), but also my Nanny who took the time with her own hands to piece my quilt together for me.
I have a VERY old Dallas Cowboys t-shirt of my Dad’s. It’s more than 20 years old I know. I wear it for luck during games. SHUT UP PEOPLE IT WILL WORK EVENTUALLY. My very favorite t-shirt I have is my Dad’s black Harley shirt pictured below. It says “Sturgis 1989” on the back. He got it 25 years ago on his first ride to Sturgis on his first Harley motorcycle.
What made me think of this t-shirt thing in the first place was Maddie’s request this morning. She asked where her “Sydney shirts” were. We have a few t-shirts in honor and memory of Maddie’s friend who’s battle we still fight. Stupid dumb ass cancer. She thinks about her a lot and I think that in a weird way the shirts are comforting. Just as when I wear mine I think of my Dad.
Music is auditory. It touches & stimulates that sense of hearing. Maybe all these silly t-shirts we all keep are a tactile comfort. Another sense that gets comforted or jolted in a certain way. As my kids join soccer and football and cheer and student council and speech team and whatever else I’m sure my t-shirt collection will grow. I may be a t-shirt hoarder but I think it’s ok. Maybe I’m just a “memory hoarder”