Friday, August 12, 2016

The Passage of Time

Yesterday afternoon, after I had woken up and showered, I got a text message from my oldest daughter, asking if I was home. I haven't see a whole lot of either of my older two this summer--and only a little bit more of Sabrina, truth be told; this third shift stuff wreaks havoc in unexpected ways--and I was glad that she wanted to see me.
She leaves for vet school at Cornell on the weekend. And as proud as I am of her, and as much as I am happy that one kid in this world, at least, has been able to pursue a long-held dream without having to abandon it, I felt a profound sadness, too, after she departed. She is a college graduate, and already has substantial debt accumulated--and now has to attend four years of  vet school before being able to earn a living. I am afraid that she will never be solvent in her life.
I am happy that she has grown up to be an accomplished and well-adjusted young lady. But I am also saddened by the awareness of how much time has passed. The recent Pokémon craze has awakened this feeling, too; Rachel was so into Pokémon when they were new, she had a gigantic stuffed Pikachu as her sleeping companion when she was about five. And I remember her intense interest in dinosaurs, and then her intense interest in the original 101 Dalmatians collectibles that came in Happy Meals. I remember her dancing in circles for hours, never getting dizzy, and her closeness with Waldo our beagle, when she was young. I remember her intellectual curiosity as her formal schooling began. After my addiction and the start of recovery, I remember--can never forget, really--that the first person that truly grasped that drug addiction was something that can be recovered from was her; there was no greater feeling than when she was about nine and understood that the person on the edges of her memory that had hurt and abandoned her and her sister no longer existed and was unlikely to return.
Then came the teenage years, with all its accomplishments, and while I am still proud of her for all those, she was still a kid then in a lot of ways. There is a part of me that rebels at the idea that she is now an adult. There's a part of me that doesn't want to have 20-minute discussions about health insurance coverage with her. Something feels odd about her giving me her address in another city. It isn't that she isn't entitled to grow up, because she is.
It's that I am not supposed to age. This is the third or fourth time this week that I have had occasion to mark the passage of time. I played in a softball game Sunday with younger members of my fellowship, and although I shocked them all by how well I can still play, only I know how much of a shell of what I was on a field thirty or even fifteen years ago I am now. At the meeting last night, my sponsor and a guy I sponsored for years were both there, and hearing Jeff say he was sixty now, and me recalling that he finished his 12-and-12 eight years ago, and figuring out that Mark, Jeff, and I have been clean for a combined 62 years now made me wonder where all the time has gone. I am rather vocal in my disdain for the Olympics, but someone posted on Facebook about how excited all us teens were at the time about the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal--and the realization hit hard that they were held forty years ago, that I had to walk or ride my bike (through a forest that has been a housing development for thirty years now) to a McDonalds that hasn't been in that place for three decades to get and redeem our game pieces from that Olympics. One of my friends is moving this week, which made me realize that I have lived in the house I live in for over nine years now, and that my daughter that just got her senior pictures taken had just exited the second grade when we moved in.
I don't do stupid things to try to maintain an illusion of youth, although I still tend to be attracted to younger women, and that hasn't been turning out so well, so maybe that's not completely true. I'm not killing myself at the gym, or using Grecian Formula to hide the grey at the temples, or fret about the now-undeniable thinning of the hair (I'm still far from balding, but it is a lot less thick than it was even three years ago). I'm perfectly happy to go to bed (on nights I'm not working) at 10 PM. But I am also clearly playing the back nine of life now, and it jars a little. It really does. I'm not feeling all that introspective this morning, and I 'm not ready for one of those "what will be my legacy" type of pieces just yet.
I'm not that old, I tell myself. But I'm a lot closer to being that old than I feel like I ought to be.

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