The Non-Anniversary.

A note to my 21-year-old self, on what would have been your 26th Anniversary.

I can still picture you sitting on blue carpet in your veil and flannel shirt. Sitting in your sister’s old bedroom, leaning against the bed. I remember your doubts that day. I remember how you dried your tears, squared your shoulders and marched down your parents steps to meet your soon-to-be husband. You’ll need that tenacity a lot in the coming years.

No one really told you how marriage worked. There are basic skills you were both lacking: the ability to communicate being a big one. You won’t figure this out for many years.

I hate to break it to you kid, but your marriage isn’t going to last. You pictured a house and kids, a labrador retriever and picket fence, and you get all that. The reality is not what you thought it would be. It’s a lot lonelier. It’s a lot harder. One day, you are going to decide doing it alone is easier than trying to make your marriage work in a way that makes you both happy. This knowledge will break your heart. This will be the hardest decision to make, and you will never quit feeling guilty about it.

Your children will literally be your lifeline and reason to wake up each day. Your love for them and need to provide for them will lead you into careers you would never picture for yourself. You will never have much, but you will have enough. You’ll never be able to give them what you had imagined for them, but you’ll keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. You really should have gone to college, but you’ll manage to fashion together a nice career out of moxie and hustle.

You will be humbled. Right now you are cocky and young and have one hell of an attitude. That attitude will help you, and hurt you. You will be your biggest champion and your worst enemy. You are a fighter, but you will learn to choose your battles. You will need to learn to ask for help. From friends and family. You will need to learn grace, and forgiveness. These will not be easy lessons.

You are going to have your heart broken. A lot. You will lose friends. You will lose family. You will lose a child you helped to raise. You will lose lovers. You will lose jobs. And you will survive.

You are going to meet so many wonderful people. You can’t even imagine. You are going to meet men and women that will change your life. Some of these people will only be around for a short while. Some of them you will know for years and years. You’ll have friends who become lovers, and lovers who become friends. You’ll have more female friends than you could have imagined and you will learn so much from them. They will teach you to be soft and open. You will love them harder and longer than any man, be thankful for that.

You are going to see and do so many things. You will travel and go to concerts and meet strangers and stay up too late. You will sing Carly Simon songs with Irish boys in a little bar in Ireland.

You will go running through Chicago in your bare feet, heels dangling from your fingertips so you can make it to the bar in time to watch the Blackhawks cinch the cup with your best friend. You can’t even imagine that now, but it will happen and it will be one of many great stories to tell someday. You will have so many great stories.

You’ll never love someone again like you loved the man you married and had your children with. You can’t even fathom right now how someday you’ll barely really know each other. But he will always have your back. He will turn out to be a great dad. He will be the best ex-husband a girl could ask for. He will also be a monumental ass before that happens and he will hurt you like no one else could. But you will both put all of that aside and raise your children together, but apart, in the best way you can. It’ll be ok.

Rest assured, you will fall in love again. You’ll fall in love a lot actually. But you will spend most of your time without a partner. Don’t be afraid of that. It was scary as fuck for a long time, but you will get past that. You’ll do more things by yourself than you can picture. You will be brave.

You will never have a silver anniversary. You will wonder if you will meet that one person to settle down with. There will be moments fear will grip your chest in the middle of the night. And you will continue, at times, to be lonely.

The most important thing 21-year-old me: you will have the best, most amazing children. You are going to do some things really poorly and it won’t be easy. You are going to miss some things you didn’t think you would. They are going to go through hard times, really hard times. And it will break your heart into tiny pieces when they hurt, every time they hurt.

They will be the best things you ever accomplish.

Happy non-anniversary to my first (and only) ex-husband. Happy non-anniversary 21 year old me.

 

 

soundtracks.

i recently made a soundtrack.

a friend was embarking on a journey and the friend and i have been pretty tight for awhile and this friend is going to be sorely missed around these parts. its not that we still wont talk every day. its not like i cant call when i need to. there is skype and facetime and some other application on our macbooks that would allow us to speak “face to face” as often as we like. but thats kind of not the point of his journey, or this post. 

so i had made a soundtrack for him to pop in from time to time. its a mishmash of songs from various nights and events and conversations. every song has a specific memory attached. some make me laugh. some make me cry. all of them remind me how lucky i am for all of those memories. and i know we will make more over the years to come. 

but that isnt the point of this either.

so, the the boys and i decided to go on a bike ride since its nice enough again for us to do that without being miserable and as we are riding through our park i’m flooded with so many images and stories. 

there are moms pushing strollers. cyclists. bikers. skate boarders. a dad teaching his kid to ride his bike bike.  friends chatting.  burners meandering. women running. people golfing. two cute older people on a tandem. a couple pulling their dogs in a kid carrier behind their bikes. a woman teaching her son to roller blade. and me and my boys, zipping through the fray.  the variety of ethnicities are astounding if you aren’t used to it. its heartening. but what i couldnt quit thinking about as i peddled through, with the sun casting is low golden light on this scene in my life, is not only do i have my soundtrack. not only at that moment, in those moments, was my own soundtrack playing in my ear, but each of those people has their own soundtrack. 

they have songs they think about when they think of lovers. of friends. of their children. or their parents. songs that make them smile. or well up. or peddle faster. or shake their ass. usually on one bike ride i can run through all of those things in a 30 minutes period.

since i sent my friend off with the soundtrack of our time together, this soundtrack of my life concept has reared its head in some interesting ways. 

on monday i went to a concert. the first concert i’ve been to in a very long time actually. i used to go to a lot of shows. that was something chris and i did a lot of and enjoyed very much. i didnt make a conscience decision to not go to shows. i just simply havent really. so i agreed to go to this show with some girlfriends and on the heels of this special friend taking off, i had this girls trip to look forward to. and it was beautiful and sunny with big fat fluffy white clouds chasing us the whole way to Indy. The grass was green, the beer cold, the sky blue and the music washed over me like a blanket. and i’ll be damned if chris didnt just walk right up to me. 24,000 people and he walked up like nothing. so we watched part of the show like no time had passed, even tho it has, and went our separate ways. forever that band will be linked to that moment in time. its part of my soundtrack.

since that day, just a few days ago, random songs have popped up like they do, invoking thoughts and memories of other people who have crossed my path and left an imprint. 

soundtracks. 

if i was going to write out my life, from my earliest memory, to this moment, i think i could easily come up with a song for every year. if not several. some invoke such visceral responses it can make me dizzy with emotion. 

i cant imagine my life any other way. i cant imagine it stagnant. its colorful and varied. its not like anyone elses. it definitely not boring. its sometimes full of sharp edges. and lots of letting go. but with letting go you have to open your hands and when you do, new things float into that empty space. 

and all along the way, my soundtrack keeps expanding. and so does yours. and yours. and yours. if you’re doing it right. your soundtrack keeps expanding all along your road.