I can’t make a step by step plan to force the stars to align. And I can’t go back in time and change the course of events that have led me here. The only regrets I am allowed now are the ones I am letting to grow in this very moment. This is not a midlife crisis so much as a midlife reflection. Today is all I have and all I can try to control. If picking off my pink nail polish while I watch a tiny spider crawl across the papers on my desk to Joni Mitchell’s 2000 album is where I am choosing to be then I must accept with responsibility the moments to follow. My coffee sits cold in my morning mug and I think back to my 20’s when I believed neither in luck nor regrets. That was my age of pessimism and realizing that things out of my control will keep happening no matter how little I allow myself to eat or how far I tried to run away. It also seemed like the age of endless possibilities, and it would have been had I stopped being so negative to notice how fleeting life is. Which brings me to here where I am afraid my luck ran out before I realized it existed.
My 30’s have so far been an endless list of responsible decisions and accepting that luck may never be on my side long enough to propel me into something meaningful and fantastic. My childhood dreams seem to have come and gone during my long awaited but short lived time in Chicago. I don’t like accepting that my big city dreams came and went so fast before I had the chance to make something of myself, but now I am the owner of a small cabin in the woods fulfilling a different dream. It’s not like me to stay planted in one spot, accepting what lies before me as THE one path. Or maybe it is that I have always ran away when things became too real causing me to leave Chicago at a pivotal point in my young adult life.
I sit and stare at the wall before me on which hangs a photo of me at 18. “So naive, you.” I wish I would have discovered Joni Mitchell back then. Luck or no luck, pessimistic or not, running away or staying the course, it is the same things now as it always was leading up to this point.
Today I found myself recounting our planned trip to The Big Apple, the trip that never happened because of the terrorists. I can’t help but imagine what that trip would have been like. Would we have gotten along or merely co-existed as a way to rekindle our grandmother-granddaughter relationship. We had always been thick as thieves when I was little. Now looking back I realize that that was only possible because I was unaware of the truth. As I got older that truth started to leak out a little bit, and I watched my mother try to cover up what was really going on. When I was old enough to pile up my own issues we became close again. Our bond then being our problems and the relationship we used to have. However we lacked the trust that would put us back together again. And then we canceled our trip.
I moved away and grew up. I learned how to be respectful. More importantly, I learned how to move on from my past, heal from my hurts, and get over my issues. All the while you were back to your “secret” way of dealing with things. And now look at us. We have nothing but a few good memories and even those are hard for you to dig up these days. The relationship we had throughout the past thirty-one years is buried deep down inside with all of your other lost memories.
Alcoholism is not just a secret you have kept all of these years. It is not a silent killer; it is loud and it pees on the couch and messes up the house and sits around naked in the middle of the day. It has wrecked you with memory loss and caused numbness in your legs so you cannot walk, and it has robbed you of years that are supposed to be quiet and peaceful and reflective. But you cannot remember anything now. You cannot remember that you were drunk yesterday afternoon or that I stopped by to bring you dinner. We could have taken that trip to New York. I could have visited you every Thursday and taken you out for antiquing and then dinner. But we have lost that chance to rekindle our relationship yet again. It was our last chance.
If I was a better granddaughter maybe I would be at your side. Maybe I would drop everything to see you through this. But the emotions are confusing, and on days like this I think that maybe its just better to leave it all as it has become. Maybe I can just choose to separate the good memories from the bad secret and the sad ending. Just know that I miss you. And I will remember it all for the two of us.