On Sunday, I will turn 38.
38 years of trying to figure out this thing called life.
456 months of doing the best I can.
13, 880 days of making decisions that affect the course of my life.
333, 120 hours of growing and learning.
19, 987, 200 minutes that have been filled with moments both cherished and forgotten.
Sometimes I'm proud to be turning 38. After all, I've been alive for almost 4 decades. I've seen a lot and done a lot in that time. I've seen the world change from large push button machines to ones that you can hold in the palm of your hand while you swipe your finger across the machine. I've seen fashion go from leg warmers and jelly shoes to ripped jeans and flannel to... well, whatever kids are wearing now. I've listened to the music of Alabama and Rick Springfield, Reba McEntyre and Queensryche, JoDee Messina and They Might Be Giants, Carrie Underwood and Lady Gaga. I've gone from surprising my teachers that I could read in kindergarten to my son's teacher being surprised not that he can read, but how well he can read. I've moved from a small town in New York to a larger town in Florida to one of the biggest cities in the country to the capital of my state. I've fallen in love, had my heart broken and broken a few hearts along the way. I've learned who I am and what I want from life. I've met the man of my dreams and, with him, brought two wonderful boys into the world. I've had a good 38 years.
But there are other times where I wonder where the 38 years have gone. I still remember waiting at my bus stop in first grade, holding on to my "briefcase" that held my pencils and paper for school. I can remember fighting with my sister, hurting her sometimes but also being afraid when she would really get hurt. I remember standing up for her, but not being able to stand up for myself. I remember my first boyfriend, and my first kiss. And I remember how heart broken I was when I found out that he was only dating me because of a bet or something. I remember my first love and the heart break I felt when my parents wouldn't let us date any longer. I remember getting ready for college, getting scared out of my wits during Honors Weekend when some friends and I found evil. I remember being able to run without getting winded, being able to move without pain. I remember fitting into size 9 clothes (and feeling so good when I did). I remember being on my own and going back to my parents. I remember being innocent and trusting. I remember being rewarded, and getting hurt.
But mostly, I remember my dreams that never came true. I dreamed of being a teacher. I loved my teachers in school. I loved the knowledge they imparted and how they made things fun. I loved teaching things to my friends and I just knew I could be a great teacher. But when I actually got into the schools for the mentoring program in college, I couldn't handle it. I was used to people that wanted to learn. I went in blind. And it was too much for me. So teaching became a broken dream.
I remember the three men I imagined spending the rest of my life with. The first, my first love that still holds a tender place in my heart. The second, a man that demeaned me but I was convinced that I was destined to be with. The third, a man who had no confidence in himself which made it difficult to be with him. Each dream, shattered in time.
I remember thinking I'd be a perfect mom and housekeeper. I knew what it was like to be on the receiving end of getting yelled at and I'd never do that to my kids. But I find myself yelling when angry, feeling like I'm losing control. I hear the words, "Because I said so," coming out of my mouth when I swore I never would say them. I see the disaster that is my home and wonder where I went wrong.
This wasn't the life I thought I'd have 10, 15, 20, even 30 years ago. In some ways, it's better. I have a man that understands me, supports me and loves me falling asleep next to me every night. I have two little boys who tell me they love me more than the whole wide world. I have family close by without being on top of me, and friends that are just a message away. I hadn't seen where the internet was going when I made my life plans, and it's invention has given me more than I could ever imagine. Those are the good things.
But I'm also not where I want to be, financially and personally. Don't get me wrong. I don't mean my physical location or the people in my life. Those are some of the best parts of the last 38 years. But where I want to be is something I can't figure out. I was sure that by the time I was 38, I'd know what I wanted to do with my life. I'd have something that I could look at and say, "I'm good at that. This is what I want." Instead, I feel like I'm floundering around from one thing to the next. I throw myself into crafting for a few months, then it feels old. I start blogging and love it... but then feel overwhelmed by the things I want to add. I start writing - fiction, non-fiction, it doesn't matter. But even that feels more of a requirement than a joy. So I have this feeling of dissatisfaction because I'm convinced that, by now, I should have answers to all these things. But I don't. And I'm not sure if I ever will. And I'm not okay with that but I also don't know how to fix it.
But the biggest thing that bothers me as I get older is the same thing that bothered me as a child - death. There were a couple decades where I didn't think about death. I didn't think about what was waiting for me in the afterlife or what I would do without certain people in my life. Death wasn't personal. But now, I'm seeing friends and loved ones pass away. People that aren't that much older than me leaving behind loved ones. My step-mother passed away 3 years ago and I've had to watch my father deal with her loss. And her death makes me think of how much or how little time my Daddy has left and what I'll do when he's gone. I worry that something will happen to me and my boys won't have the chance to know me. I worry that something will happen to them and I'll shatter. I worry because my belief in the afterlife is that what happens is what you want to happen (heaven, hell, rebirth, nothing) and because of this philosophy, I don't know what will happen to me. I'm afraid of being forgotten and forgetting.
38 years. So much. So little.