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    Sunday
    Mar062016

    1986

    There are points in one's life, moments, events, which are defining times.  They create a definitive Before and After in our lives, an After which will never be the same as Before.  This could be the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, a marriage, the end of a relationship, a new job...Significant events. Defining moments.

    Perhaps my first such moment occurred in 1986.  I knew that I would remember the date for the rest of my life; apparently I was wrong, though, because I don't recall it now.  It was a Saturday in July, I know that much.  The 15th?  The 16th?  Something like that.  It was the day we left New Jersey and headed next door to Pennsylvania.  We left the house I had grown up in; the only home I had ever known.

    It was the summer after ninth grade for me.  I had just finished my first year of high school.  My one brother had just graduated high school; my other brother had already been in college for three years.  We packed up the house and headed off.

    An hour and a half doesn't seem too far these days.  And indeed it isn't.  Back then, though, we may as well have moved across the planet.  This was way before cell phones, before the Internet.  There was no texting, no Facebook, no emailing, none of that.  If you wanted to stay in touch with someone you either wrote them a letter and mailed it or you called them, paying about 15 cents a minute or something like that for long distance calls.  It was definitely a different world.  Because of these limitations, 15 year old me had no chance of staying in touch with those friends I had known for years.  I don't think I've seen any of them since.

    So - BOOM - we move to Pennsylvania, and I am now firmly ensconced in an After.  Life before we moved and life after we moved.  What do I remember?  I remember unpacking my room.  It was so easy then!  Mostly because I didn't have many things to unpack.  I remember getting the first tour of what would be my new high school.  I remember the wonderful feeling of central air.

    When I think back, though, if I think of my parents at that time, they were just my parents.  Nothing special.  (What fifteen year old thinks his parents are special?).  We had moved because of my father's job; they moved offices, and his commute had become too far.  He had been working at that company for I don't know how long at this point.  A number of years.  I don't remember what job my mother had before we moved, but she found a job at a nearby nursing home.  And so life went on.  But when I think of them then - or at least of how I saw them - they were just plain old adults.  They worked their jobs, they paid their bills.  They watched tv, cooked dinner, went food shopping, the basics.  They were, in my eyes, firmly ensconced in their adult lives.  They were set in their ways, the ways that would carry them through for decades to come.

    Now.  Think back to 1986.  Well, maybe that's not a good idea, because I don't know when you, dear reader, were born.  So instead I will say - think back to when you were 15.  Think back to how you saw your parents.  Is it similar?  Did they seem to be entrenched in their lives?

    I did some math the other day and realized that, in 1986, my parents turned 44.  Forty-four.  That is my current age.  That is me right now.  By this point in their lives, they had one child in college, another child starting college, and a third one going into his second year of high school.  They seemed so - boring to me.  But also, I suppose, pretty together.  They knew what they were doing.  Didn't they?  But me - now - yeah.  No.  I don't feel like I have my life together.  Well, that's not exactly true.  I do in a lot of ways.  In other ways, though, I feel like I am completely floundering.  I don't know what career I want.  I don't know if I want a relationship.  I don't know where I want to live.  I can't imagine being this age and having a child who is 21 years old, like they did.  Of course, if I did have a 21 year old child, I wouldn't be who I am today.  I might have a completely different outlook on my life.  I would possibly have answers to these questions.  Or maybe I wouldn't even be asking myself these questions, because they just wouldn't occur to me.  I don't know.

    And, to be pragmatic, I can never know.  That isn't the life I've had.  I don't have any children.  I am who I am, on the path that I am on.  I have a few answers, I have a lot of questions, I am who I am because of the things that have happened, the choices that I've made, how I've reacted to life's events.  It was just a bit of a jolt to me to look at my life at 44 next to how I perceived my parents' lives at the same age.

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