Travelin’ and memory lane
Been on the road since Friday visiting family in Illinois which included attending my niece’s wedding near Bloomington. Gorgeous, of course. Vineyards seem to be the “it’ place to get married these days (who knew?).
In all the excitement of the ceremony, the reception and the morning after, I was feeling a little sad, for no apparent reason. After all, weddings are a GOOD thing. But I realized that I was back in my childhood environment. The flat Midwest corn fields are nostalgic for me (even when they are burned up by drought – awful). And I found myself in tears thinking about some vague events from years gone by.
So I took an early morning drive on the country roads (most of them ‘hard roads’ as we used to call roads with actual blacktop), feeling more than a little guilty about using fossil fuels for a joy ride. I realized as drove between those flat fields interrupted by little clumps of trees with small groups of buildings – house, barn, shed, grain elevator – that nothing had really changed in 40 years. Farmers were still worrying about rain. Kids were still swinging on rope swings. And hearts were still being expanded (as in weddings) and broken (as in divorces).
There were both kinds of hearts at the wedding. Nick and Dorie, of course, were elated, even after spending the last 11 years together. Married is married. It’s different.
My brother’s newest girlfriend was suffering on the opposite end of the spectrum. Her ex was getting married to HIS new girlfriend the same day. Icky, even when they’d been separated for years.
And with my own son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in attendance, it brought back my own semi-sweet memories of young love and divorce. I couldn’t have fallen harder for my first husband and that’s the truth. I suppose I should be over it 20+ after our final divorce, but it still pinches that life didn’t turn out as we expected.
Ditto for life at home. My parents are older. My dad’s heart that has survived many assaults over the years, is failing. My mom tells me the same story again and again. And I know that soon, very soon, death will lop off some of my dear family.
So I think my nostalgia was intermingled with joy for Dorie and Nick, joy at spending some special time with little Lilly (who is a wonderful little three-year-old) and pre-mature sorrow for the life that ‘once was” and the life that ‘might have been.”
There are a lot of family dynamics in play when I go home. They really don’t know me at all. They think ADD coaching is trivial and unimportant. And by their measure (the amount of money I have in the bank), I’m not very successful. So why do I care? They think what they think. Yet I have this absurd little girl urge to do something that will please them, let them know that I’m OK before it’s too late.
It’s a weird feeling to go home again. On one hand, I am happy to be there, among people who have known me all my life – literally. And on the other hand, those same people know my failings. So while I love them beyond measure, I am also a tiny bit fearful that they will dredge up some awful truth about me that they think is important (and that i have tried to forget).
My overriding emotion is sorrow at my losses – those in the past and those upcoming. My instinct is to stay longer, try to hold on to what’s left, to pin down that ethereal spirit we know as “Life.” Yet what’s ahead will happen without a push from me or a tug back on the reins from me.
I’m rambling, I know. So what is it I want to say? That my tender heart get even more mushy when I’m here. That I feel vulnerable. That part of me yearns to go back to that young life of innocence and trust (which really wasn’t quite so idyllic as I remember). And that my roots run deeper than the brittle corn stalks anchored in dusty soil.
This Illinois life is the foundation of who I am. And who I became. And yet, I am not this Illinois life any longer. That makes me happy…and sad. That’s all.