I’m turning 38 this year and I’ve been looking back on how much things have changed since I’ve been alive. How different my son’s childhood experience is from my own.
When I was in high school, Johnathan Larson’s RENT, which was loosely based on the Puccini Opera La Boheme but highly inspired by the AIDS crisis of the 80s and early 90s, opened. And holy shit, I wanted to move to New York, live in a flat in Alphabet City and be a bohemian.
Things..didn’t quite turn out that way. I’ve never been to New York, though I’d still love to go one day on a grand theater and museum and historical sights tour before I die. I know I’m not still that young, idealistic girl but there are times when I look inside myself and catch a glimpse of that carefree bohemian I used to dream of being.
Now? Now I’ve got far too many responsibilities. Bills to pay. Things to do. A house that constantly seems to look like a tornado hit which I, of course, must spend hours cleaning to put things to rights again. I don’t have time to be wandering around observing life and making pithy comments while sketching or writing poetry, which is exactly what I thought I’d be doing NOW when I was 17 and still had dreams.
I made the conscious decision to put my dreams on the shelf a long time ago, because they were just really incompatible with the realities of what my life ended up becoming. I’ve done my best to do what I’m supposed to do..get married, get a job, pay the bills, buy a house, buy a car, have a kid. I was young once..and now I’m old. And sometimes I wonder where the HELL has my life gone?
I want to sit outside on my deck and smoke…except I haven’t had a cigarette in nearly 20 years at this point. But in my head, I can still almost smell the way Malboro Reds (my preferred cigs) smelled. I can almost taste the tobacco on my tongue, almost see the cherry red tip glowing in the dark as I sit there all by myself while the noises of the night–dogs barking, people arguing, some guy with his bass thumping driving by–swirl past me.
I wonder what my life would have been like if I had gone to New York after I graduated high school like I wanted to, instead of doing what I was expected to do. Sometimes I regret not taking that chance to really get out there and live.
But, like the song says–there’s only this. Forget regret or life is yours to miss. No other road, no other way. No day but today.
I can’t go back in time and tell that 17 year old girl she should just take the couple thousand dollars she’d managed to accumulate over the last couple of years and run like hell to New York as fast as she could get there. I wish sometimes that I could. All I can do is just keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep trudging forward because time’s gonna move on without me whether I want it to or not. I’m going to keep reaching for the little things, trying to find happiness wherever I can because that’s all you get. A few small moments of happiness. You gotta find ’em and hold on to them, because there will be dark times when you can’t find your way in the dark, when what you really need is a candle. Those small moments of happiness? That’s gonna be your candle, flaring in the blackness with just a tiny light to help guide you out of the shadows and back into the light.