Giggles ascending over the card aisle, talk of frat parties, what and what not to wear fall on me like dust particles I once felt fresh. I am disheveled which is my normal state of being as of late. Outfitted in my second set of workout clothes for the day having fumbled through power yoga in the in the wee hours of the morning only to shower, change, deodorize and put yet another workout ensemble together because I am just aesthetically lazy these days because truth is sweat and spit- up end up being my signature scent. And subconsciously I think people don’t expect you to look good in exercise garb—the standards are low, but when you put on a for real outfit that dares to rebel against the elastic waistband and is instead embellished with buttons, seams, and sutures…well, then people expect you to look somewhat together or let me rephrase that they expect you to not smell like poop and a Diet Coke that spilled on you yesterday.
The laughter escalates higher with more flamboyance saturating the commercial air of Target like the smell of hot brownies lingering in the air, I want some of what they have—these young women spewing out merriment like a water house gone wild. But in reality I know it wouldn’t be good for me…or at best it would leave a bittersweet taste of regret in my heart. Sidetracked into the land of nostalgia as I catch a scent of the youth that permeates every syllable of their robust cackling, my mind buckles itself onto a time machine and memory is the highway onto which I am deported to 1998.
Just like that reality sobers me up as Posey has now Houdini-ed her way out of the cart and is standing up eating some glitter-fied, good golly awful looking “Happy Birthday Grandma” card leaving me with moral obligation and guilt to by the slobbery mess. Roman is wearing a Captain America mask shooting Spiderman webs, fully convinced he is made of superhero blood, not human flesh. The clamor and clatter that is motherhood- in- action drowns out the roaring laughter now turned chuckling, clucking and chitchat just one aisle over. I still cannot see the faces behind the merriment, but their ways, their laughs, their subject matter, their demeanor, the fluctuation of their words—all of it feels like a road I have driven a thousand times blindfolded but have not visited in years. These faceless, mysterious young women playfully joust with words crafted with spunk and spirit. They laugh and revel in shallow talk as I try to wipe runny cobalt glitter off Posey’s lips that now look like a Smurf lipstick stain with Roman singing his rendition of Adele’s Rumour Has It –with the wrong words, right tune.
Then I turn my piled high cart of unnecessary necessities. I catch their faces. Vibrant with life. Lacking wrinkles. Lacking my tired face. Lacking my smudged mascara.
They are young, wild and free. And for a moment I envy them.
Then I realize I hold a far greater gift in my soon to be 35 year old heart: my story, my life failed, my life lived, and the glorious ownership of who I am with splints and splinters and shimmer and shine from learning lessons learned by just flat falling on my face instead of the girl that ran 100 mph from conflict, pain, and tried to rent out everyone else in hopes that they might fit, they might work, and recklessly hoped that the world around her might actually buy the whole shenanigan.
Sometimes when the devil tries to perch on my shoulder I can feel that girl rising back up, on my bad days it feels like she never left, on my good days she feels like a foreigner and I wonder how she ever finagled and foisted her way into my conscious.
You know, it’s comical sometimes living in the heart of the city, bookended by Vanderbilt and Belmont students. I seem to think I was just in college then when they roll back in town come late August each year, I am sobered up out of my time warp and reminded that No,no, Lindsay, my dear fool, you have been out of college 12 years. You are about to be 35. You can see 40 clearly when you look ahead and you have to get a telescope to see 25 when you look back.
But you know, as my 35th birthday looms in the distance like a stranger that the clock is forcing me to be best friends with, I wouldn’t trade my age for those fresh faced college girls high on the moment in front of them, living as if they were eternal, not sure who they are not and no idea who they are. I realize I am painting a mighty broad brush, indeed. I have indeed met confident, self-assured, never doubting who they are young women from time to time. I was not one of them. For this gal my twenties were tumultuous and foolish. Those two adjectives say it all. Tumultuous and foolish. Foolish and tumultuous. The fool took a long time to die and once he did the tumultuous had no one to breathe through.
I love my thirties. I love my wrinkles setting in around my eyes like an unwanted guest I have grown to love and ask to stay a little longer. I love that mistakes are the highest educator and I have finally learned to take my seat as the student instead of trying to budge the door open and run the hallways of ease. I love that I am confident in who I am, not running to someone I am not… I have learned to love myself– marked with an unorganized mind that is spinning 12 plates of thought at one time, losing keys too frequently, finding new thoughts habitually, judging less, seeking Jesus’s heart more, singing loudly off key to any good melody with even better lyrics, making recipes in my head because my brain cramps at measurements, loving my neighborhood most days when the rap music is low and the energy is high, thankful my sleep has been robbed by two night owls that are one and four years of age, overwhelmed at how far God has brought Seth and me in our journey of 20 years…a marriage marked with challenges, bliss, tears, endless banter and laughter, plans going not as planned most of the time, and for letting go of what I wanted life to look like. Because age teaches you that sometimes the things you want most are the things that rob you of your freedom, your story, and your life. You can open the door on this- is- what- I- want-my-life-to-look-like-dangit as many times as you want, but you will step out onto nothing but hot air and fall flat faced a 1,ooo feet onto the soil of a small life fertilized with delusion and discontentment. Because our youth makes us think we can fly, but age teaches us that we are finite—that falling is the only place where we can rise again because we learn we are not in control and that the moment in front of us, this very second is the only one guaranteed by our Maker.
Sometimes in our youth we have to open 146 barred doors to realize there is one door WIDE, OPEN in front of us marked: YOUR LIFE. You don’t have to jimmy it open. You don’t have to knock three times and stand on your head. Nope. The only person that can open it is YOU. Age teaches you to let go of that door knob your hand has clinched with a white knuckled grip. Because age teaches there is freedom in letting go. All the trying. The faking. The manipulating. The selling of yourself in hopes that maybe they will not only notice you, but maybe like you as well. But here’s the deal, there are many 90 year old fools because age will only teach you if you invite it to sit awhile and it will only radically change your life if you let it move in your soul.
I’ll shoot you straight, though. Do I miss a back that doesn’t ache, hands with less age spots, perkier breasts, legs with less varicose veins? Sure, maybe a little bit.
Those gals at Target may gain all that I lack on the outside, but you and I, the ones that have fallen enough to be free, well, we are the ones to be envied because we have experience and experience is the greatest treasure on this earth because it teaches you to stand taller, to be unabashed about your imperfection, confident in the tiny fibers that make up who you are, and it wedges more light in your eyes because you spend less time on what is not important and more time on what is.
You know, you and I should be the ones quaking with robust laughter. We know a little secret those young gals do not know. Experience is a gift, a gem, a pearl, a prize. But it sits high on a shelf –one that our youth cannot reach not matter how hard it tries. We can see what they cannot, we know what they know not and it this : Experience can only be grasped and unwrapped by hands of time.
because I just love to post pics unrelated to a post…because no blog post should go without some faces behind all the words:)
I love this photo because Posey hangs onto her daddy’s every word. this captures it all. this is pretty much what our evenings look like–that is minus running around half naked with a cape in the to the far right:)