Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Voices from the past

Last night I found some of my old diaries and a letter I wrote to myself. I was 17 and was addressing my future, 27 year old self:

"Dear Mrs. Whoeveryourare, I hope this letter finds you well. You are most likely married and probably have a few children. Am I right? If you have forgotten so soon what you knew at age 17, let me remind you. Be patient with your children, but discipline them when they need it. Give them opportunities you never had (if money allows) but don't spoil them. Above all, be there when they need you. Also, be a loving wife, but don't let your husband rule your every move. Don't give up your dreams of having your written works published and never forget me - your childhood self."
LGB 1/1/90

If I could somehow travel through time (where is a Tardis or a Delorean when you really need one?), I would give this letter to my 17 year old self.

"Dear childhood self, I know you won't believe me, but you're an awesome 17 year old and you'll just get better with age. You won't have 6 kids, 4 horses, 2 dogs, 2 cats and a Quakerkeet, but you will have one perfect baby boy. You will be patient with him...mostly. You will give him many opportunities you never had, and spoil him terribly, but that's okay, because he's a really great kid. You will find your soul-mate and best friend. I won't tell you his name, but when you meet a redhead from Sweden, stick to that man like lint in velcro. He's a keeper! 
LGBI 1/28/14
P.S. There really is life past 40. It's not a myth!

On second thought, I probably wouldn't give myself this letter. We really hate spoilers, you know. Instead, I'd give her a hug and possibly a few winning lottery numbers. And a quick lesson on eyebrow maintenance. :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Mirror Lady

Promises to Keep is a blog about a girl, just a hair past 40, who is a bit distressed by the gray templed, frumpy stranger who stares warily at her from the mirror. The mirror lady seems nice enough, but the girl wonders what magic has transpired. Where is her own reflection? The mirror lady mimics the girl's every move. "Why, that just can't be me! I'm only twenty-ummm...thirty-something." "41" says the mirror lady.  "Shut up, lady!" says the girl.

As a child sitting on my mother's bathroom counter, my mother confided in me that at times she was shocked when she looked in the mirror and saw the older lady staring back at her. "In my head I am still 17." What crazy talk! I remember thinking "How could she feel 17? That was eons ago. She is an old lady in her 40s. 40 is ancient, and no 40 year old could ever feel young."

30 years later, I understand. I don't feel my age either. (Well unless I've been sitting cross-legged for awhile and try to stand up.)  I don't quite feel 17. I've had far too much loss and sorrow in my life to be that carefree again. But nor do I feel 41. In my head, rather, I am ageless. And while it does bother me a bit to see the graying temples and the laugh lines, the real concern is that the sands in my hour glass are falling faster than ever before. If just yesterday, I was only in my twenties, tomorrow I will be in my eighties, and the day after that, I will be just a memory to those who loved me. I have way too much to accomplish, and many more memories to make before my grains of sand are gone.

Some call it a bucket list, but I think a bucket is for fried chicken or dirty mop water. I don't have a bucket list, I have promises to keep to my 18 year old self. All the things I wanted to do, thought I would surely do by the grand old age of 40, well many of them I haven't done. Don't misunderstand, I have done a lot and am thankful for each experience I have had, even the ones that did nothing for me except make me stronger. I still have so much more to do.

Some of my promises are little, some are big. Some are silly, some are serious. Some I may not even know about yet, but the discovery is part of the fun.

I put my hand up to the glass and the mirror lady does the same. She smiles just as I do and we say in unison, "we've miles to go before we sleep."