I have a wonderful life. It’s rich with people I love and who love me. I’m safe. I have room to grow and make a difference. Most of all, there’s my husband, and my son, too. Both to whom I’m devoted. And indebted.
Fortunate does not adequately describe my station.
And some days, just for a little while, I wish I could turn back time.
I would choose a summer afternoon. Independence Day, 1989. A barbecue in our yard. My 8 year-old son jumping around with excitement, fireworks to come. Our garden festooned and blooming in red, white and blue, my then husband alive and smiling — a man with a mission and a grill, and my parents. Well, happy, late middle-age, no hint of infirmity and devastation to come.
We said grace before the meal made for America’s celebration. Hot dogs, ribs, hamburgers, salads and cupcakes decorated with toothpick flags. We remembered those who fought for our freedom. We remembered those killed attempting to a scale a wall in Berlin that had finally come down. Last, we acknowledged the students killed a month before at Tiananmen Square wanting exactly what we had.
The right to choose a sun-shiny day in a little backyard oasis with friends and family, pursuing or not pursuing exactly what we wished. Whenever we wished. According to our whim.
A beautiful day. In another life. When I was a young, brunette mother and wife with a plethora of imaginings about my future and that of my family.
And now it’s all different. I am latter middle-age, new to old age, stepping into my 60s. My boy a grown man. I am bottle-blonde to cover burgeoning gray better managed with this color. Like life. Sometimes more gracefully handled by going with the flow and morphing a bit to make accommodations for the unexpected. When incredibly lucky the unexpected becomes beautiful. In time.
Brunette. Blonde. Both nice. Like my old life and present life.
But on certain days when I stop, am still and reflect, it is in an odd place I find myself. Owning barely related lives. Picking through my past while detached from it. As though meandering through a lovely antique trove appreciating the relics. I feel pulled to them, admiring of them. A tugging to grab things and take them home. But I don’t have a place for them. In the end, they would collect dust. Distract and crowd me.
Yet these souvenirs are already mine. They are packed in my cosmic attic. Sometimes clutter. Other times cherished mementoes provoking an occasional longing I cannot deny even in my blessed life.
Only the moment. On the 4th of July, 1989.