Incredibly, I've Lived In Chico, CA 8 Years Now.
"Love is So Short, Forgetting is So Long" - The Years 15-20
It’s been posited (though controversial) that every seven years our cells turn over and we are physically different people literally inhabiting different bodies. Lately I have been exploring the flip inner-side of the coin, trying to figure out how much of me changed and how much stayed the same through the years.
I continue to probe chewy center in the middle beneath the surface of the physical change—can it really be that we are entirely changed people every ten years, other than what the mirror tells us?
Already I find it is getting difficult to quantify some lessons, because now I’m looking through the retrospectoscope – a less than totally reliable instrument, clouded by the residual matter of experiences and memories of other decades. I see that what I am learning by this or that young age is subject to refinement and correction. (Will I ever really know anything?)
And so I try to grapple with and express what I knew, or was beginning to see as true, by the age of twenty years.
Lessons learned Ages Fifteen to Twenty
- If a girl feels as if she has no future, one way to deal is to find a guy to share his.
- No matter how much Grandma loves you, you can still get in trouble, and the older you become the greater the consequences.
- Not thinking about a possibility like getting pregnant is not the same as doing something to prevent it.
- You can be really sure you love someone one day, and the next, seriously doubt it.
- You can be happy about a life-altering decision to have a child or be married, and also very sad upon the realization that you – in your particular place and time- have no other risky, rich experiences to delve into by which you might test your mettle.
- School, once gone as part of your life, might be something you actually miss once it is no longer a possibility for you.
- It’s nice when friends visit, but as they talk about kid things, you are thinking about paying rent, buying diapers, getting some decent furniture. Your thoughts are consumed by worries that you and your husband might lose your humble jobs as your visiting pals discuss what they are wearing to prom. Your high school friendships can never be the same.
- It is oh-so-very-easy to get into debt that takes YEARS to pay. Rarely is it worth it.
- Despite the hard lessons thus far, you can never, ever even begin to imagine life without your beloved child.
- If you think life with Mother was difficult, try Mother-in-Law.
I was beginning to get smarter, but ever so confused. With the wisdom of age I might say that back then I was learning to live the paradox. Put another way, I was walking the tightrope across one possibility to the next, not sure what kind of safety net I had – needing to take on faith that I had one at all. Often I didn’t. How did I survive? That’s up next.
PS. The quote in the title is from a favorite poem by Pablo Neruda. My family knows I have always loved literature and poetry. I read the quoted line “Love is so short, forgetting is so long” as a nice reminder that the love we’re blessed to experience is short because a lifetime is short; memory, though, is blessed and eternal. Here is the poem, which is more literally plaintive in its context of a different loss: