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Sunday, August 22, 2010

"I was so much younger then; I'm older than that now."

First of all, the bumper sticker of the day, forgive us please, but we laughed so hard at this one Annika fell off the back seat, Dave snorted, and I almost drove off the road.

"Proud father of the next door neighbor's honor student."

Okay. That has nothing to do with anything else. Just, it's good to laugh.

So what is your favorite bumper sticker?

This is the serious bit. I feel old. Old. Old. Old.

Like, done. Over. Out of gas. Too old to do much beyond put one foot in front of the other.

But it's not supposed to be like this. My closest mom-friend is sending her youngest child off to college this week too and she's feeling like "it's time for me," even as it is time for her daughter to move forward with her own life. She's excited, ready, eager to launch the next phase of her life.

I'm supposed to be her partner in this process, a kindred spirit, likewise ready to jump into this new era. Supposed to be. Want to be.

Four years ago when Kaia was graduating from high school and getting ready to go off to college, it felt like my world was opening up too.

A friend gave me a bookmark with George Eliot's wisdom, "It's never too late to be what you might have been." I filled my head with aphorisms like that one. "Vienna waits for you" became my favorite song, and I was all about the future.

Several years after getting hit in the head, I was finally coming back to life as the worst of the trauma effects abated and I was bored with all the diversions I'd created for the times required to recover. I was gung ho, ready to take back the world. A whirling dervish, fast and furious, full speed ahead.

Turns out I was also revved up on three times the FDA recommended maximum dosage of Paxil. And I was working out like a fiend. Boxing, lifting, walking, pumped up on endorphins on top of the Paxil and other meds. Let's just say I was a bit manic.

I wanted to seize more than the moment. I wanted to grab the brass ring and do, get, accomplish it all.

Concentration was still a problem. So it's hard to remember what all I wanted, but coming back and claiming life was definitely the goal.

I was only 51. That seemed young. A long future stretched ahead, so many possibilities, options, doors to open, roads not taken to go back and try. "Let me at it!"

I actually scared my therapist one afternoon. "I'm going to Poland!" She understood me to say, "tomorrow," which wasn't far from my ambition. "Dial it down," she suggested. "Let's think this through."

So we did, of course, and saner sense prevailed and I took some time to figure out more about what I wanted. But not enough.

Between the endorphins and the overdose of Paxil, I had enough oooomph to plow through a jungle.

Looking back now, at those manic moments, I'm embarrassed at my excess of enthusiasm, my failures of good judgment at times, and my quick conclusions.

But I'm also sort of jealous, wistful, longing, to have that high spirit back again. As I prepare to send another daughter off to college (in FOUR days!), I keep thinking it should be prompting another round of anticipation -- along with the loss.

I have a new and improved routine, with some new goals. So it's not like I'm lying around watching HGTV all day -- well, not until last week. There are some new accomplishments, new projects, wonderful new friends, and new ambitions. I've worked hard to develop some skills that will carry me forward. I'm still as goofy as before (who among you speaks seriously about the "flock of moose" up ahead on the road?) and I am still completely incapacitated from time to time by PTSD. I am not, as we say, normal. And Annika is proud to say that her mom is genuinely "certifiable," not just your run of the mill crazy. We laugh a lot.

It's time for Annika to move on. And it's time for me to be creative, too. But I'm kind of jaded, worn out, hoped out.

I'm going to hear Rite of Spring(Stravinsky)this afternoon. I hope the spirit moves, the energy of new life catches hold of me, and an even violent gust gives me a big push!

Are you still filled with energy about the future? What sparks your energy? What feeds your spirit?

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