“I wish that I knew what I know now- when I was younger.”
You know that famous Rod Stewart song? It’s one of those songs that gets stuck in your head. (I apologize that now it will be the soundtrack to your entire day.) It came on the radio the other day and ever since Rod has been crooning the chorus loud and clear in my brain and it got me to pondering.
I wish that I knew what I know now.
Except that I don’t.
I’m glad I didn’t. Because now I know that the world is a scary place full of horrible people lurking around every corner. There is no escape from the terror that grips me with every news cast. Horrible horrible things happening everyday to normal people.
And I can barely catch my breath.
Back then I was ignorant. I was carefree. I was wild.
And I have the stories. Ohhhhhh do I have stories. Things that now make my toes curl and the hair on my neck stand up.
I turned 21 at the Tropicana Club in Havana, Cuba sipping Havana Club Rum and smoking Cohibas. I turned 22 hiking in Patagonia to an iceberg. I turned 23 in Roatan, Honduras snorkeling on the reef, drinking flaming shots, and stumbling back to my hotel down a deserted jungle road.
It was before the Natalie Hollaways. The Elizabeth Smarts. The Ariel Castros.
I am constantly amazed that I survived myself and made it this far. And now? Now I am a working mom of three. I pay my taxes, I mow my lawn, I go to church, hell I even bake. There’s so little now to remind me of who I was. Who brought me here.
Looking back I would never do those things again. Never. (Except that I would.)
I am so grateful for the life experiences that brought me here and I am so grateful for what I have now. I do miss her though. You know? That person I was before I gave birth and the switch got flipped. And now all I can see is the potential outcomes 17 steps ahead. The Dateline specials and the headlines. I can barely remove myself from what I know now.
I closed my eyes and in an instant 1,000 years had passed. And I am Rip Van Winkle.
Sometimes I am unrecognizable to myself. And sometimes I still see her. That girl. The flaming red hair, baggy jeans, dog collars, drum circles, and recklessness. And the baby on the monitor cries out and the nostalgia is gone. I am in the moment. The dirty dishes, the laundry, the alarm clock are calling my name.
But I know who I am and where I came from. And I have that. Life has changed. My dream used to be to change the world. I just didn’t realize that the world I was changing was my own. And for now? That’s enough.