October 25, 2010

Romanticizing the Good*

"And now that this scared little girl no longer follows me
wherever I go, I miss her.

I do. 'Cause there are things I wanna tell her...
To relax, to lighten up, that it is all going to be okay.
I want her to know that meeting people who like you,
who understand you,
who actually accept you for who you are,
will become an increasingly rare occurrence.
Jen, Jack, Audrey, Andie, Pacey, and Dawson.
These people who contributed to who I am,
they are with me wherever I go,

and as history gets rewritten in small ways with each passing day,

my love for them only grows.
Because the truth is... it was the best of times.
Mistakes were made, hearts were broken, harsh lessons learned,

but all of that has receded into fond memory now.

How does it happen?
Why are we so quick to forget the bad and romanticize the good?
Maybe it's because we need to believe that
the time we spent together actually meant something,
That we were there for each other in a time in our lives
that defined us all,

A time in our lives that we will never forget.
I can't swear this is exactly how it happened.
But this is how it felt."
[Dawson's Creek]

In the Spanish language, the past tense is separated into two specific tenses, preterite and imperfect. Depending on the context, if something happened at one specific time in the past or repeatedly occurred in the past, you use a different tense. When I talk about growing up I begin the sentence with "Cuando era nina..." or "When I was a little girl...".

However, lately I feel like every sentence should begin with "When I was a little girl...". Life changes faster than we are ready for, in ways we can only understand in hindsight, and before we know it the lives we build for ourselves look everything and nothing like they once did.

And I miss things about those former lives. Like when the only thing I had to do after elementary school was go to Girl Scouts with my best friends. Afterwards my mom picked me up, we drove home the four minutes to my house and I watched Full House until dinner time. On Fridays I watched Boy Meets World and went to bed by 9:00 PM. I learned to read, to solve problems with long division, and that girlfriends are more important than boys with cooties.

Some days I would give anything to switch places with my 8th graders. They can only imagine the world that lies in front of them. They have no idea where they are going to fit into it because right now they don't quite fit in anywhere. I miss the thrill of talking to boys for the first time and figuring out that hey, maybe they could turn into friends after all. The feeling of having a huge group of friends constantly around to hang out with, cause they all felt like best friends at the time. The late night (10:00 PM...10:30 if we were lucky) rides home (from our parents) from friend's houses on the weekend. I learned that boys can come in between friends, but best friends will always work it out.

In high school I didn't really belong anywhere so I ended up with friends from everywhere. Elementary school, middle school, sports, work, church youth group, etc. I felt free, independent, but always slightly out of place. I didn't know what I wanted out of life, and when I did know I didn't admit it, because I knew it was different from the things everyone else wanted. I was a good girl - went to work, swim practice, school and my parents never had to ask if I got my homework done. I didn't sneak alcohol into my parents basement, I didn't ever try a cigarette "just because", and the one and only time I left school during the school day we went to eat lunch at Jimmy John's and felt incredibly rebellious. I took leaps of faith in friendships and relationships and sometimes it worked out and other times it didn't. I picked up the pieces more than once and at times put them painstakingly back together on my own. I developed a defense mechanism of sarcasm and quick-witted comebacks that remains with me today.

College felt different. I knew my place in the world and I left Eagan, Minnesota with an idea of what I wanted and how to achieve it. For the first time, I met people who grew up in different ways that I did, who learned differently than I did, and whose perspectives on life didn't always agree with mine. I studied hard and went to my 7:45 AM Calculus Two class every morning of fall semester freshman year. Then I needed a change. All the sudden my life felt different and I just needed to do something by myself. Chapters of my life came to an end and I packed my bags for a summer in Valladolid, Spain. I skipped around the city in black flats, drank calimocho (red wine & Coca-Cola) with my host family and for the first time, experienced a type of travel that wasn't limited to a Midwestern road trip.

I came home from Spain and stopped caring so much what others thought about me - I knew I could find friends anywhere. Friends who would love me, care about me, and invest just as much time in our relationship as I did. I wanted to do well in school, and I closed down the library on more one midnight showing. But then I went out on Tuesdays just because. Or drank margaritas even if Cindo de Mayo did fall on a Monday. I went frisbee golfing instead of going to Reading 328 just because the sun was shining and spring in La Crosse is gorgeous. I embraced my little freshman brother going to my college - and decided to use the time I actually get to know him as a person, not just the stunning natural athlete 15 months my junior. I learned to live fully. I went down to Third Street and danced the night away with girls who are beautiful to me inside and out. We brought along our friends, our boyfriends, our classmates, and we celebrated for no reason at all.

When I look back on these former lives I tend to remember the good, and forget the bad. Not that I block out the unhappy moments entirely, but they do not seem quite so important as they once did. Today I am a combination of these experiences and the people associated with them. I am a whole person assembled from so many different parts. My friends come from an increasingly diverse number of places, backgrounds and life experiences. We don't all eat at the same lunch table everyday, but we share our experiences over the phone, over email, or in cherished visits. Somehow the boys with cooties have become fixtures in our lives and one not-so-far-away day they will be fiances and husbands.

As I think about whether to head back to the States this year or maybe stay one more year in Colombia, I wonder how I will look back on this experience? Will I remember the good and forget the hard times? Twenty years from now how will this time have shaped my current life?
Just some food for thought on a Monday...
In other news, Happy the 106th-World-Series-doesn't-include-any-East-Coast-teams-day!

*Credits to Anna for inspiring this post and so many others.

3 comments:

Ilse said...

I love this blog. I think about this all the time too!

Kristin said...

Thanks lady!! :) You should blog about it to, you probably have a much better way with words about it...

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