Monday, February 26, 2007

In My Life

I've posted several times recently about my past, about where and how I grew up. OTJ has also written several posts recently centered around her past. Sunday I was out driving and heard a Beatles tune that really spoke to me about this. Here is the first stanza of "In My Life":

There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed,
Some forever, not for better,
Some have gone and some remain.
All these places had their moments,
With lovers and friends I still can recall,
Some are dead and some are living,
In my life I’ve loved them all.

I have such strong memories of certain things. My grandfather's store, his farm, etc. These are places I haven't been, except in my memories, for a long time. I go almost every year to a family reunion of my mother's family. It is held in a state park a few miles north of the little town south of which my grandfather lived. It wouldn't take but a 20 minute journey to get to his house, and a few more minutes to the store. But I am afraid to go. I am afraid of what it is like now, that it won't be the place I remember. All of this has passed out of family hands. I don't want to lose my memories of these places, to replace them with images of today and the disappointment that they are no longer as I loved them.

A few years ago I had to go to Reno, Nevada for business. I was there for two weeks. Instead of flying home for the weekend, Laura flew out and we drove over to Monterey, California. She and I met and were married there while we were students at the Defense Language Institute. We drove all over the Monterey peninsula that weekend, chasing down places we used to frequent. It had changed so much. At one point, I suggested we try to visit the Presidio itself and Laura refused. She explained later she wanted to keep her memories of where we met and lived.

For our 25th wedding anniversary we are planning a trip to Crete, Greece. We lived there for two years and both of our children were born there. We are both really looking forward to the trip, but I am a little anxious. This too was a special time for us. The base I was stationed at is closed and even though the local town has taken over part of it, many of the buildings have been gutted and are derelict. There's been a good bit of development in the area where we lived, and I am afraid that the little out of the way places we used to go to will be gone. It will, I think, be a bittersweet trip for me.

I don't want to be one of those people who live in the past, nor do I want to be one of those people who want to forget their past. It could be that my recent preoccupation with my past is, in part, because of the uncertainty in my present position - the changes of the past 2 - 3 years in the company I work for, the real possibility that it won't be in business or I won't be working for it in the next few years - that this uncertainty has me looking for better times. At the time we were living in these places there was much uncertainty too, but we were young and had so much ahead of us - and maybe in the arrogance or blindness of youth - to look ahead to.

That isn't to say that I don't have anything to look forward to now. But there has been so much change in the past few years. Our kids have grown up, and while they aren't quite out of the "nest", they are almost gone. We don't see either of them during the week - Kris is at school and Zack works swings. (He might or might not come to the house for supper). We are by ourselves for the first time since we were married. I am enjoying it, but I miss them.

Laura and I have a lifetime together to look forward to. We are not wealthy but we have reached a point where we aren't worried about paying the bills and we can afford - for instance - for Laura to go to England with her sisters. I am quietly excited about our life to come. If I've lost the enthusiasm of youth I've gained the ability to live in - and appreciate - the present. So, while I reminisce about my past, I live in the present and enjoy the memories I've made and anticipate those I am going to make.

16 deeply creased, dogeared comment(s):

Thailand Gal said...

Wow... great post!

I admire the way you remember the past. Given my background, there's nothing "back there" that I want to remember now. I choose to remember some good things from the past 20 years or so but never want to drop anchor in the past.

Things change.. and we change.. and it's all good. :)



patches said...

It's lovely that you have such wonderful memories of your past. It speaks highly of you when you recognize their preciousness. Some spend their whole lives never recognizing what they had at the fingertips. The only thing we can really count on in life is change. Enjoy making new memories.

Oh, The Joys said...

There was a little country store near the farm in my family... it had a vast glass candy counter. The whole store has been razed to the ground. Nothing to indicate it was ever there.

Bob said...

Chani - Thanks. I think we all edit our past, choosing to either forget or bury our skeletons. I’ve mentioned just a few of mine, the others I’m not in a hurry to bring out.

I agree, change is good. After all, it’s inevitable so it might as well be.

Patches - When I was preparing the post about my grandpa’s store, I asked my mom what she remembered and we had a good hour’s talk about the store and other things. I need to do that more.

OtJ - Papa’s store had a glass candy counter too, where he kept the penny candy. Mom thought that it would be a much sought-after antique now. Along with the cheese cutter and other things that burned with the store.

It’s a shame about your country store. They are such unique places, out of place today in our era of Walmarts and Krogers.

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping that when I reach the stage of life you are in now that it will be the best part of my life. But I try not to hope too hard because everything can change in a moment. As you say, it's important to live IN the moment. (And of course, I'm not much younger than you now, so I'll be more like retirement age when my kids are grown, but hopefully we'll retain our health.)

Several years ago we went back to PA for a family renunion. My mother wanted her daughters-in-law to see her parent's home. Unfortunately, the neighborhood had changed and my mother felt a bit depressed.

My girlfriend comes back to our hometown annually for a Memorial Scholarship fundraiser in her father's name. When she came back with her new husband, she asked me when our town became so "seedy."

In both of these examples, my mother and my friend were seeing through someone else's eyes, perhaps really seeing these locations instead of through the filter of memory.

Great post.

meno said...

I have wonderful memories of living on the base in San Diego when i was young. I went back there several years later, and the house and the rooms were much smaller. :)

I hadn't realized that you lived in Greece. How wonderful. I hope you have a great trip when you go and make some more lovely memories.

Bob said...

De - One of the things I have tried to let go of, and I think I have - mostly, is to live in the expectation of better times tomorrow. The struggle for me was to learn how to find the good times in today - then tomorrow will take care of itself.

Meno - Growing up, we never lived on-base. We always lived on the economy. My first time living on-base was my last duty assignment in Maryland. I can understand why people do - it's cheaper! and there's a built-in support group, especially overseas. When we on Crete, I saw some people living on-base that never left it. I couldn't understand. What a waste of a 2 year paid vacation.

jen said...

bob, have you heard the crosby/stills version of that song? it floors me.

and what a terrific post. it's the journey that brings us to the now, and the balance that allows us to remain.

Bob said...

Jen - I haven't heard the CSNY version, I'll try to find it on the 'net.

I am the product of my heritage and the sum of my experiences. It is my task to accept that and to build upon it. It's a shame that it has taken me this long to figure that out. And I'm still not done.....

Mother of Invention said...

I think you've had a very enriched life so far and can see that in your future too. (I'm in a gypsy outfit with big gold hoop earrings, looking into my crystal ball right now!)
I am sure you will have a fabulous two will make it special in your own way.

I just did a meme somewhat like had to think of about 6 ways you've changed and 6 you've stayed the same in the last half of your life. It was good for me to do...very reflective just as yours is here. I'm not tagging you because I don't like putting it on other people to do but I bet you would find it interesting.

Bob said...

MoI - or should I say Madame Zorba - I am a lucky man. I sometimes have to remind myself of that.

I read your responses to the meme, and Meno's too. I might do it, even If I don't post it. It will require some thought.

Maggie said...

I love this post. 'quietly excited' is such a comfortable and peaceful sounding state of mind. To be able to be in the present and enjoy it - something I have definitely not mastered yet.

Bob said...

Maggie -

I am a jack-of-all trades and master of none. But this is one I'm really working on. I am finally letting the past mistakes go and learning to enjoy the good that is now. It is a continuing journey that I am just really starting.

urban-urchin said...

It's so nice to read about hope and the will to go forward rather than ruminate on the past and the would have could have should haves.

jen said...

I left you a comment in my comment section. I hope you go back and read it and believe it to be true.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

What a wonderful post, and it builds to a perfect last paragraph that we can all relate to.

It's always sad when we see how places have changed with time because we like to believe that our past is OURS and will always be there, exactly as we left it.

Hopefully, as you suggested, the wild enthusiasm of youth is replaced by new abilities to appreciate the whole trip as well as the road ahead.