I have these moments sometimes.
I’ll be sitting in my chair in my living room and I’ll just be watching or listening to the kids and I’ll wonder to myself how did they get so old?
I know, kids age. But there they will be, cracking inside jokes with one another, talking about classes being picked for the next year of high school and I suddenly can’t believe they are here, in this moment, at these ages. I will have visceral recollection of them as toddlers, wide eyed and innocent or even as babies, breathing gently into the divot below my collarbone and the memory strikes me for a moment as real as air I breathe. Almost like I’ve been, if just for that second, transported back to those moments in their lives. I can practically smell their hair freshly washed from a bath and that lovely scent that accompanies clean small children and babies.
I blink, and just as fast as it came over me, the memory goes away and once again I am looking at these exquisite creatures, nearing adulthood with a speed that blinds me. They are so beautiful, so clever, so funny. I can’t believe I made them.
It’s not unusual for me to get locked into my own head from time to time. I have been known to do it on purpose, especially back in the days I used to take off to the park armed with a bottle of water or a coffee, my cigarettes and a notebook. I enjoy nothing more (when I can spare the time) than sitting down surrounded by nature and birdsong and just emptying my mind to see what thoughts burst forth away from the concentrated focus of my regular life. Sometimes the thoughts are sad, sometimes they’re funny, sometimes reflective. Some of these very moments have spawned some of my favourite scenes in my own books.
I had a few drinks on Monday. Three, to be exact, in the space of about an hour. What can I tell you, I was stressed out that day and I came home angry. I don’t like to be angry. I can literally feel my blood boiling, my face contracting and my mind whirring at a million miles a second. I needed an unplug, fast. I don’t drink a lot. I’m a ‘maybe a beer on the weekend, maybe a gin and tonic once in a while’ kind of girl. I certainly do not possess the impetus nor the stamina to drink like I did in my twenties and early thirties anymore and that’s okay. I enjoy a glass of wine with Sunday dinner. I think the last time I was drunk was well over a year ago. But Monday, three drinks on a hot day in one hour, it’s safe to say they went straight to my head.
On the upside, I relaxed but quick. I stopped dwelling on the things that had made me mad during the day and I laughed, a lot. Probably at things that weren’t actually funny. Like the guys with the stop/go slow signs directing traffic as the hubs drove us all out to the store. I pointed back at him when he pointed us through the one lane, and the laughed as if it was the greatest joke of all time. It actually felt good to let go.
That night, we had a bonfire in our backyard. My buzz had worn off and I was pleasantly in that state between relaxed and sleepy. I sat in my chair and watched as the tiny embers floated up towards the trees, and then I watched the trees sway and dance in the breeze.
“It’s like they’re chuckling” I said out loud. (I have always had an affinity with trees…I’m convinced they speak to me sometimes)
Nostalgia set in.
I’ll be 39 this summer. I don’t feel that old and yet, sometimes I feel my heart is so much older. I look back at all the things, all the milestones good and bad that have brought me to this age and it’s hard to believe that I have gotten here intact after some of the drama and trauma. It must be because there has been so much joy to balance it off. I used to be a very negative person, in fact, it’s something I still struggle with from time to time. I would spend ages picking apart in my mind occasions on which I felt wronged, who wronged me, and what they deserved. I made disparaging comments all the time towards myself and others. Like a self-bully, I had to constantly put myself down or put down others in my mind to make myself feel better. I had bad relationships with other women, behaving, often, as if we were in some kind of private competition and I had to win, no matter the cost. The cost, inevitably, was high, as I have very few female friends now. Fewer male ones.
I’m learning to let go of a lot of that. This practice I’ve had for so many years of getting in touch with nature, or with myself, and allowing those moments to creep in, it’s working in my favour. I can count my blessings in those moments. I can reach deep down within myself and finally see the me that I am supposed to be, and she’s a good person. She’s usually happy, is grateful for her family and friends. I feel peaceful more often than I feel wound up and that is saying something.
I guess what I’m saying is that we can all change. We can all find it in ourselves to stop toxic thought patterns if we really want to. We can all find a way to just sit in the backyard with a fire, and chuckle with the trees while our children play before us and know, really know that it ain’t such a bad life and 39 isn’t that old after all.