Saturday, November 6, 2010

In Her Shoes

There are shoes in which you can not walk until you're of a certain age or until you attain certain experience.

I cannot walk in the shoes of my mom, nor her friends D and L, nor my good friends E and B, all dear to me, and women who have lost their husbands. beloved husbands. I cannot say, "I understand," nor "I know what you're going through." ... I can only say, "I'm so very very sorry."

This is off topic, I know. But I'm thinking on this tonight, as I consider what it is to be 41 going on 42. I was about 16 as my mother reached her 40's. I thought she Knew stuff, that she had life figured out, but figured out wrong. Rebellious, even malicious as only a 16 year old can be, I battled against her life choices with the indignation of one who believes that grown ups have clear 20/20, that they understand right and wrong, black and white (and choose accordingly).

My 40+ friends are laughing right now. Tip to 16 year olds ~ 40 year olds feel as bewildered as teenagers, but have 25 years on you in dealing with all the lack of straight, black and white answers. Honest to God, I'm as stuck in my head, with all its self-doubt and confusion, as I was at 20, except now I have good (and legal) drugs.

My mother was my age as she was fighting for her nuclear family against all odds. Confused. Winging it.

I'm winging it today. (The only caveat I can give to the expressed purpose of this blog.) Trying to figure out what it is to be 'grown up,' and 'a career woman,' and 'a wife' and 'a daughter.'  ... I was a teacher for a very long time. I burnt out. Now I'm a class A cdl driver. I feel like the girl I was at 16, only I've learned to say, 'Ahhh, f**k it.'

My mom is in her mid-sixties. She takes road trips. She's driven the western states, mostly by herself. Sometimes with companions. She's seen the Tetons. Remote jeep-access regions of New Mexico's Navajo reservation. Yellowstone. Taos. Bryce Canyon. Yosemite. Next year, she's venturing further east.

I wonder if she feels at 66 that she's the same girl as she was at 41 which is the same girl she was at 16. In an aging body and a timeless mind that is nuanced, but doesn't yet have all the answers.

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