Monday, April 19, 2010

The runaway train

Today I've been thinking about getting older.  I know some of my readers will groan here...just a second, let's let them groan...because they might find it a bit, shall we say, naive, for me to be talking about getting old when I am but a rip-snorting twenty-seven.  I know I've written here before about how twenty-seven feels old because all of the items on my "To Do By 27" list have not quite been checked off yet, but that's not really what I'm talking about today.

Today I'm thinking about how pleasant it can be to get older, how there is a certain wisdom involved in admitting that time is passing, and that you are moving along with it.  Being home, it has been nice to drive by old places and remember them when they looked new.  I feel a certain pride as I walk through my neighborhood admiring the tallness of the trees and the thickness of their roots, because I was here when the trees were tiny, when the trees had just been planted.  We used to have to be extra careful to close our blinds at night, but now it's not such a big deal, because the trees are big enough to obstruct the view.  It's funny to remember my parents commiserating with my friends' parents, "Can you believe how small the trees are?  They're practically bushes.  It's going to take forever for them to look normal."  But forever turned out to be the duration of our childhoods; none of us can believe how fast forever went.

I like to remember the block parties we used to have down the street, and how we are one of only a few families that remain here from those older days.  My parents tell me there are no more block parties, and that makes the memory even sweeter.  My vision of it is like a cloud that clears in the center to reveal a muggy July night and the dads in shorts and the moms running back and forth to their houses to grab more food, and the kids in bathing suits waiting on the curb for the fire department to arrive (they used to come and spray us).  And best of all the falling night, as people start to trickle home, but a few stay, drinking beers, swatting mosquitoes, laughing and talking and telling the kids to stay close, it's getting dark.  It's hard to believe now, but that was the best night of the whole summer: we all started looking forward to it the day school got out in May, and for the end of July and August we were sad that it was over, and said how it had been the best one yet.

The passage of time is undoubtedly scary--I think Ben Folds' analogy of life barreling on like a runaway train is quite apt.  But I can't help but feel glad for the things that I have to remember, I can't help but feel that they make my heart bigger and make going into my own mind even more fun than it used to be, when I was younger, and I used to just think about the things that were to come.  I miss so many things, I regret not savoring certain moments more, but how nice to have them stored along the little shelves of my mind.  How nice to know they are there.

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