Thirty years

Thirty years ago, I had a sunburn from floating around in my friend Shelly’s above-ground pool on some sort of inflatable raft.  I remember this only because I graduated from high school thirty years ago and the pictures of me with my grandparents show my very pink skin contrasting against my white blouse.

Back then, I didn’t know anyone who had a graduation party.  I certainly didn’t.  My grandparents drove an hour up I-5 and after graduation, we ate ice cream.  At least that’s how it goes in my memory.

Of course, that was thirty years ago and my once unfailing memory falters sometimes, more often than I would have expected as that 18-year old girl.

If I passed my 18-year old self on the street, I’m not sure I would recognize her.  Too bad, because I’d like to pull her aside and tell her that everything will work out all right.  But I’d keep it cryptic because really, no one really wants to know what will happen before it does happen.  How could you survive the agony of waiting for the Thing to crash toward you?  I wouldn’t want to tell her what was around the corner.  The good would outweigh the bad but the weight of both would crush her.  Too heavy a burden, knowing the future.

Looking back, thirty years feels like just so many slides clicking past, not so long ago, click, click, click.  And suddenly I’m looking at my crepe-paper neck in the mirror and admiring my finally-gray hairs.

But looking forward thirty years?  Unimaginable.  A journey of a hundred thousand miles taken one slow step at a time, in snow, barefoot, uphill the whole way . . . and when I get there, I’m seventy-eight.

Except I’m sure in thirty years it will seem more like a barrel rolling down a hill with me careening around inside.

Speculation.  Just speculation.

In the meantime, tomorrow Grace has a soccer scrimmage.  Later on, I’ll take a couple of my kids to a pool party to meet the youth pastor candidate, his wife and toddler.  I will read–I finished Justin Cronin’s lovely The Summer Guest and just picked up The Great Gatsby.  I need to clean out my fridge, sort the basket of socks, organize my desk drawers, bake a cake.  The dog needs a bath.

All the details will fade from memory by the time I’m seventy-eight, but for now, they are the details that make this life my life.

(Note from seventy-eight year old me to forty-eight year old me:  Stop worrying.  Everything will work out all right.)

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