The Box — Day 3

Another day, another question in my 10 days of self-evaluation and reflection, aka faux Rosh Hashanah.  The first two questions invoked some strong emotions as I answered the questions.  But, I suppose it wouldn’t lead to true reflection if the questions were soft ball questions.  Asking things like, “Where do you like to eat lunch?” doesn’t really make you think….or maybe it does if you have strong feelings about lunch, lunch foods, lunch habits, and / or lunch places.  I don’t, so the questions that the website 10Q sends are more in line with my expectations.

Question:  Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?


 

It took me awhile to think of an answer for this question because my first inclination was to try to think of milestone birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, births, etc. that took place this past year.  I couldn’t think of any that I would consider a major milestone.  But it was the 5th anniversary of my father’s death this year, and I relive that milestone each year.

My father’s death marked a major shift in the lives of my family, especially my father’s side of the family.  And while there has been healing, there will never be full recovery.

When I moved into my new house, I also moved a box of files that I brought home with me from Mexico, where my father had been living when he unexpectedly passed away.  Since the time of his death, this box has been sitting in closets, or workshops, or man caves.  Since we closed his estate last year, I had started to finally go through the box and decide what could be shredded and what needed to be saved.  After I moved, it was a project that I took on one weekend.

I only wish that my dad’s box looked so well. A trip from Mexico meant that it was very beat up.

I had looked through this box of files many, many times after my dad first died in an effort to find answers about his health and about his finances.  I knew that the box was a duke’s mixture of items — all the information on the house that he was in the process of buying when he died to a list of the #1 songs on the Billboard chart in 1965.  A single file folder could be a lot of nothing, or it could be full of valuable information.

I hadn’t gone through that box in a couple of years until this year.  And the simple act of cleaning out the box and sorting through his files had a deep impact on me.  I laughed out loud at some of the items that I found, like his application to his 50th high school reunion that took place a couple of months after he died.  On his application, he was asked to answer the question “What have you been doing the last 50 years?”  His response “Living life to the fullest and having a great time.”  Yep.  And he answered the question “What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?” by saying “Being the best at living life to the fullest and having a great time.”  Double yep.

I also felt incredibly sad as I found record of some of the times that he struggled, trying to make ends meet, and sometimes finding it hard to do.

Revisiting this box and its items, without the overwhelming grief that accompanied my first forays into its confines immediately after his death, allowed me to feel like I had spent the weekend communing in some small way with my dad.  That is a major happening, whichever way you look at it.

25 years is making me sick

I wrote the majority of this blog post yesterday.

[9-14-2013]

Today is my 25th high school reunion. And I am terrified.

Circumstances have prevented me from attending any previous reunions, so this will be the first time that I have seen a lot of the people with whom I graduated.

And 25 years is a long time.

A lot years. A lot of changes. Both physically and emotionally.

This morning, what I am feeling is that I have come home again. And it is scary.

When I think about why I am feeling this way, I guess that I am not really that surprised. The people with whom I graduated were some of the most important people in my life from the ages of 5 to 18. Those years helped form the person that I am today, though they aren’t fully responsible for the person that I am today.

During those years, I wanted to fit in, be liked, have friends, be “one of the gang”….all those John Hughes’ 80’s movies clichés (those were the movies of my generation — Pretty in Pink, Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). I struggled with all those big-screen emotions, all those insecurities, in my small-town life.

I have discovered that when my 43-year-old self is put back into the midst of my 18-year-old self dynamic, my 18-year-old self insecurities are revived.

It’s like going into a house of horrors — I think it’s going to be fun, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to get the shit scared out of me.

If I weren’t experiencing this, I would find this extremely interesting. Really, I find it interesting regardless. Do we ever outgrow our adolescent angst? Do those demons, the ones that were most prevalent through those most precious formative years, ever completely let go of our psyche? I am a much different person than the one I was 25 years ago, as I would assume all my classmates are, as well. The ways that I have changed, whether good or bad, have made me more comfortable with who I am than I was even last year. But….throw people who haven’t seen me in 25 years into the equation and BOOM! Terror. I think that I may be having one of those “too much in my head” moments.

So, Thomas Wolfe — you can go home again. And my trip is filling me with anxiety.

Today

[9-15-2013]

I had a lot of fun yesterday and it was really great to see so many people who I hadn’t seen in so many years.

And the greatest thing — I learned that many of us are in the same place in our lives. Questions about careers, family responsibilities, growing older, children, etc. We are all struggling with and celebrating many of the same life events and milestones. And with maturity, with the ability to look beyond myself, I can finally see how we all connect. And how we always did. But as that young, immature 18-year old, barely able to see beyond my own self and own needs, it was harder to see the connection that was there all long.

Perspective is a marvelous thing.