Miranda and Jacob are my great, great niece and nephew. Yes, I have an odd family tree – lets just sum it up by saying I was born late in my parent’s lives, after they had already raised my brothers and my brothers were married with kids. If you think on it, you’ll understand. I came into the world an aunt, was a great aunt by the time my teens hit and… well… you see the trend.
Miranda and Jacob have no idea who I am – they know I’m grandpa’s sister, but other than that, I’m a mystery. There’s no reason they should know who I am. The last time I saw them was in May of 1999. Jacob was in diapers. I’ve not seen either of them since they’ve been old enough to be forming memories.
When I realized it had been eight years that made me think about how long eight years is and how much can change in that amount of time.
Eight years ago I was still working in radio, and although I was thinking I’d like to do something else had no specific thoughts about what that might be, other than I was looking in to going to grad school. Ironically, I was considering getting my counseling degree. I now work in the mental health field. Life has a way of working out.
Eight years ago I had just returned from a trip to Egypt and would go to Central America that fall, although I didn’t know that yet. On both of those trips I met people who have been instrumental in my life since. People who gave me reason to think differently, to ask different questions, to perceive myself differently. Each of those trips had specific moments where my world shifted. Dramatically. I remember getting on the plane in Nicaragua, thinking I’d never see some of these important people again, only to find them in my life again here and there – one in Nashville, one in Amsterdam, one in Seattle.
Eight years ago my mother was still living and doing well. I was someone’s daughter. I was someone’s priority in life. When you have parents, someone is concerned about you every moment of every day on some level, regardless of how old you are. The first time I went on a trip after my mother died I remember being in the airport and realizing I had no one to call to tell them I had landed safely. No one was worried about me. No one was thinking about if my plane had touched down. No one was waiting for the phone to ring. It was shocking to be no one’s priority – I had known it intellectually, but the reality of it hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried like a baby in the car on the drive home. But, alas, this is the circle of life. It’s not that no one cared about me at all, but I was not anyone’s priority anymore. I’m still not used to it, but it’s just the way it is. That’s not something anyone in your world can fake. It just is as it is.
Eight years ago I was not a home owner. I was still living in an apartment where I had lived with a boyfriend who had broken up with me after we had lived together for a long time. It was for the best for both of us – he was just strong enough to do it – and eight years ago I was almost past the serious pain of it. Going to Egypt gave me a new lease on life in many ways. I’m a big believer in geographic therapy. But I hadn’t even started to entertain the idea I could have a house.
Eight years ago I hadn’t even met the man I would next fall in love with. In eight years we met, fell in love, had a passionate five years together and split. A lot can happen in eight years.
Eight years ago I didn’t have a blog, I hadn’t ridden a steam train, I didn’t have creative sisterhood, I hadn’t travelled Route 66, I wasn’t involved with Chicks, I hadn’t seen the Anne Frank house, I hadn’t walked the streets of Brussels and I didn’t yet know some of the people I now consider close friends. I lived in another neighborhood. I worried more. I sang less. I worked with different people. Oddly enough, I longed for much the same things I do now.
Eight years has been time enough for my heart to break and heal three times. I sometimes wonder how many times it can do that successfully, but it seems to be a champ at the process. I sometimes wish I were a person who didn’t ask so much of it, but life seems very fleeting to me and I try to soak it up at a pace that means I live life at 110 mph all the time. You get a lot in that way – and life is a swirl of bright colors as they rush by. But when you hit the wall going 110 it really, really hurts. Really hurts. But I don’t know any other way to be. Life for me is all about getting as much living in as possible and the only way I know to do it is by “running wide open” as my brother says.
Eight years ago I was in my thirties. Eight years from now I will be in my fifties. Those sound like very different things. I’m sure if I do this exercise then I’ll have a new list of changes.
Eight years doesn’t seem like a long time, but it’s long enough for a kid to go from diapers to real conversation; and it’s long enough for a life to change dramatically.