Last weekend, I made a trip that four years ago would have been effortless–and was, since I made a similar one about four years ago.
Strange how time and experience change everything.
I visited my alma mater for an alumni get-together–an extra special one that the symphonic winds group throws just once every five years for alumni of the group. A concert is held and former students spanning fifty years attended. It was a good excuse to see people I hadn’t seen in a long time, and also those I doubt I’d ever see any other way since we weren’t close enough to actually visit each other, but it’d be nice to keep up on each other’s lives once in a while.
We’d been planning the trip since November, when I was pregnant but didn’t quite know it, and then I was contemplating going with the knowledge that I’d be six months pregnant for the trip. By the time we bought plane tickets, that baby had died, but his presence in our plan-making hung over my head the whole trip.
The plane ride was by far the most difficult I’ve ever endured. I’ve been on planes nearly a hundred times (perhaps literally) and they never really bothered me. Then again, last time I flew, I was still able to drive, I was still able to bear being a passenger in the car–let alone the driver! I can hardly stand the almost rural area we live; could I survive Southern California traffic??
I felt like it was a huge milestone for me to be able to make it through the flights, and to be brave enough to suggest my husband rent a car for two of the days we were there. I didn’t drive, of course, but I only had a handful of minor panic attacks, which is improvement. Just being able to get there, make plans, be OK with plans not working, and to be calm enough to face those I haven’t seen in so long and admit that I’m not the person I thought I’d be today–those were all huge things for me.
I try not to compare it to how I was upon graduating four and a half years ago. Let’s face it: there is no comparison. I have been through more like in the past four and a half years than the first twenty-two (and those weren’t a piece of cake either). So why would I expect to still be that person?
I dreaded most the number of colleagues who would be happy, ignorant parents by now. But I was surprised–the vast majority of them, while married, do not have children born or in the works. One friend had a baby shortly after Seraphim was born, but she left him at home. I think all of this helped me feel more comfortable. Do I want people to have babies and continue the human race? Absolutely. But right at this moment, I have to admit I don’t want to know their children. Right now I want to feel comfortable in my own skin again, with other people my age, and then maybe I’ll feel comfortable with children again–once we have our own, as unlikely as that will ever be as it looks now.
I am thankful the trip was so positive, and it makes my heart ache for the past. I hope I can channel the ache into encouragement–supporting myself to come out of my shell of pain a little, revisiting the things that once brought me such joy.