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The Taste of Life

September 13, 2009

Pregnancy makes me introspective. Maybe it’s literally having a belly full of potential, or maybe it’s a by-product of all the hormones my baby books keep telling me I’m filled with, but I’ve been thinking about the road not taken, where I might have been, and where I ended up.

In August I had my thirtieth birthday, but that doesn’t have much meaning to me. I don’t feel like I’m older. I’ve got some wrinkles started on my face, and I’m watching for that first gray hair to make it’s inevitable appearance – I still haven’t decided if I’m going to dye it away or not yet. I suppose I’ll decide when the time comes. But me, the person I am inside, the only me that matters, doesn’t feel thirty. I’m too silly to be mature, too young to feel older, too wrapped up in each moment to feel the weight of time passing me. And it’s probably silly for me to even be thinking about these things tonight, as I blog this, because I’m only thirty after all, and there’s only time ahead of me. Maybe I’ll have a different blog to write when I’ve turned forty. I’ll have to wait and see.

When I do think about what in the past few years I treasure, I think about all the little experiences that make up my life. If Forrest Gump described life as a box of chocolates, then I think I’m free to describe it as a batch of wop. Life is the complete package, a jumble of everything, all recorded in the wrinkles, the smile lines, the memory pages, the scars. And I find it funny to realize that some of my most important experiences are those that were unpleasant. Could I truly understand the value of being treasured if I didn’t have the pain of rejection to compare it to? Could I value the worth of a true friendship if I hadn’t experienced betrayal because of a false friend? Would I realize the value of moderation if I hadn’t paid the price for overindulgence? Would life be as sweet without the splash of bitters mixed in?

I took a path many of the people I grew up with never traveled. I’ve spent the night arguing philosophy with strangers while blowing smoke rings at the moon. I’ve learned that tequila needs to be respected if you wish to maintain control of your bodily functions. I’ve had my heart stomped on a few times, and stomped on a few hearts myself. I’ve composed bad poetry while drinking box wine. I’ve learned that the worst thing to throw up is spaghetti, because you realize how much you don’t chew. I’ve got some stories that I’m saving to tell my grandchildren, because by then I’ll be less embarrassed and more proud that I once had that flexibility. I’ve danced in the moonlight, thrown myself into the fire of passion, and bayed at the moon, and I don’t regret a moment of it.

There’s so much life out there to touch, but it has to be grabbed with both hands. If people don’t see it, if they don’t value it, then I think it gets lost in the daily chores and weekly paychecks, the monthly bills and the yearly taxes. And that life isn’t all about wild youth; it’s also about things like sliding across kitchen floors in slippery wool socks, or treasuring the sweaty bundle of little boy snuggled around my neck after a temper tantrum. It’s about homemade applesauce spread over freshly baked bread, and chicken soup on an icky day. It’s about feeling completely exhausted at the end of a day, and realizing that even that exhaustion is something to treasure, because your little boy shared his whole day with you. It’s about living in the moment, because that moment is precious.

I truly believe that I’m better able to treasure my life, because I realize how special it is. I married the man who most perfectly matches me, and I feel as if the worst day with him is better than the best day with anybody else. I waited to share my life with anybody until I knew the value of myself, and my life. I’ve tasted the wop of life, and so I know that what I’ve got is truly something to treasure.

So I’m curious about some of the people I used to know. There was a guy I knew who had more talent than nearly anybody else. He had hopes and dreams, and was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. It didn’t matter what he wanted though, because his future was planned out for him from the moment he was born – he was going to take over the family farm. As far as I know, he’s done just that. I hope he’s truly happy, no matter what road he’s taken. How does his life taste?

I’m also curious about a girl I once knew, who married when she was still basically a child herself, and barely old enough to sign her own marriage certificate. She felt so proud at the time that she had gotten the guy. Does she still feel that way? While I was following whatever whimsical path caught my interest, she was taking care of kids. Which of us was the wiser one? How does her life taste?

When I dream dreams for my children, I wish for them a touch of pain, because I want them to truly be happy. I want them to taste everything that life has to offer, and treasure the choices they’ve made, because they understand the value of those choices. I want my children to someday write about what has shaped them into the people they’ve grown into, delighting in each sip along the way. I wish for them true joy.

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