It seems like so many of the major events in life happen in the middle of the night; or at least, that’s how it’s been for me. And it’s those major “change your life forever” events that hit after midnight. But that’s also when I can best stroll through my past, too. That’s probably because it gets so quiet around here at 2 a.m. and while I love the silence, it’s the sounds outside that drive me crazy and can have me tiptoeing around, looking out windows and waiting to see some dark shadow about to bust through the door – when in reality, it’s only an armadillo rooting through the leaves.
The TV serves its purpose, except for the fact I get too distracted, so I usually put it on one of the music channels so that it’s not completely silent in the house, but it’s music that’s playing (versus Miami CSI or Law & Order to distract me).
So, then, it stands to reason that I’m walking, in my mind, through houses I haven’t been in for years, hearing the waves off the beach and smelling the salt in the air. Before long, I can almost remember my mindset when I was 8 or 10 or 16 – depending on what song’s playing. It’s funny how we have these definitive ideas of how our life will be lived “once we grow up”. It never delivers; but if we’re lucky or blessed, it’s better.
Still, though, you know – even as an adult – that those ideas from all those years ago weren’t really far-fetched. They weren’t unrealistic or built on a weak foundation. It’s just…different. Things that are taken away are replaced with other things. The blind faith a teenager walks with is replaced with a certain reality that the adult gains. The “happily ever after” changes and redefines itself in the process into something you’re not familiar with, at least, until you live it. Still, though, even as you’re fitting yourself with these new realities and looking at life through these new eyes, the old never feels old or dated; it doesn’t lose its familiarity somehow. It’s not
really “replaced” at all, it’s just pushed back. Every now and then, you’re able to pull something from the past that fits well into the present. It’s rare that it’s a seamless fit, but it fits nonetheless.
So there you are, this person who would be a total stranger to the teenager version of yourself, listening to some song from the 70s or 80s and walking, in your mind, through the kitchen you grew up in. You know those orange formica countertops and handmade cabinets that your dad made for your mom. You see the cedar chest and the glasstop dining table. All these bittersweet memories come flooding back – and then the song ends and you take a look around at the home you’ve made for yourself and think never in a million years would you have dreamed this would be home. That teenager, who was so hellbent on some silly picket fence, hopefully, would be quite happy with what she ultimately decided as an adult.