“Growing up is never easy. You hold on to things that were. You wonder what's to come... I think we knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to what would be. Other days. New days. Days to come. The thing is, we didn't have to hate each other for getting older. We just had to forgive ourselves... for growing up.”
- The Wonder Years.
These past eleven days being away have been truly magical...
This was such an exceptionally concentrated time of reunions, of all sorts.
With my father, my stepmother, and their doggie, Molly. Spending time on our front porch, sipping wine and watching the world go 'round...
With my friends from Peddie, dancing and drinking wine, shuffling "downtown" to the ambitiously-named Tavern on the Lake, thinking that it was a karaoke night when it was actually a band they'd hired. Zoiks!
Chatting with Peddie classmate Zi-Yah, who resembles Kim Novack circa Vertigo, about her move to Larchmont, New York, which she loves. And listening to Brad and Paige as they spoke of buying Peddie gifts for their 4 kids!
Reconnecting with the Olympic athletes with whom I'd graduated -- watching pictures of them on the big screen in the new athletic center -- what they looked like in high school... Few look the same. Bless their souls...
We were walking amongst Gods then. I remember my senior year when our headmaster had asked the swim coach, Chris Martin, to talk about the swimmers -- which is something he'd never done. And so he did.
And what he did was give the name of the swimmer and his or her world ranking and then, he asked them to stand. World ranking.
I was sitting in my chapel seat speechless. All around me popped up these gods of the water.
It felt like our own Dead Poets Society. Our own version of Oh Captain, my captain. These swimmers seemed to rise out of their pews as if they were rising triumphantly out of the Olympic swimming pool in which they broke world records and created their own.
I was so happy that as an ambassador to the school -- which actually meant that we were social, we were asked to stand before the swimmers were. Or else, I think I would have slunk back into my seat feeling rather silly.
I knew that they swam 5 hours a day. 2 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. I always saw them walking around campus with their hair -- like the fuzzy troll hair except it was a greyish green. And they wore these super long swimmers jackets that were lined and had hoods.
I went on to seriously date two Peddie swimmers and I have to say, that even while I was dating them, I was always in awe of their athletic abilities. To be so great at such a young age, to understand discipline and to work daily, so assiduously to achieve their goals of being the absolute best in the world for their race, this was something to be admired. Something to be celebrated.
And so, being a girlfriend to them felt like I was a part of this greatness. It made me feel great.
I've never been an athlete. I am fast and super competitive but mainly with myself. I'm honestly more of a poet. A comedian. A love, not a fighter... Hehe. But seriously, I loved their discipline. Their bodies were extraordinary. They worked tirelessly every day. And I admire that. Drive. Passion. Work ethic. Teamwork. I admire these things. Deeply.
And being amongst these Gods was just a sliver of what I experienced when I came home.
There is absolutely more to come... And thus, on that note, I wanted to tell all of my little blades, that yes... This is one blogger who is growing up. Embracing the new parts of my life. Excited about owning a house in the future. About having a hus-band -- even the word sounds sexy sliding off my tongue, making my fingers find the letters to spell this sexy word... I am excited to be a Mommy in the next few years.
And being home, amongst all these kids who are now grown ups, adults owning homes and starting families and in some cases adding on, this was exciting. Seeing where everyone was, had landed, whom they'd married, what they looked like, how much we were all the same, where our dreams had taken us, how we'd still migrated to one another and found our stories falling so readily out of our mouths.
And who were we then? In those evening hours of reunion? Were we the kids who'd taken the field hockey bus together and talked about our bodies? Were we junior prom dates? Were we the two girls who met life-guarding the summer before I started Peddie? The two girls who created underwater jungle gyms in the pool with the two lawn chairs we had to swim under and around?
Were the popular girl and the studious athlete rather quickly falling in love?
Were we the star in the school play and the girl with all the freckles? The kid whose uncle owned the Baltimore Orioles and the boy who did back hand springs on center campus in front of Masters Dormitory?
Were we the Olympic athlete, the first two win a gold medal for America at the 1992 Olympic Games? His victorious moment when his arm leapt out of the water once he'd seen the score, reached up into the heavens when he saw that he'd beaten the Olympic Record and won, the shot which then graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and The New York Times?
Or were we the same guy who'd worked in the kitchen, Richie since 1967 and still smiled and still loved his job?
Or our classmate John who married a recent graduate and lived right over the bridge, she's texted him to "come home" when he was giving us a lift in his golf cart, which he rode all over campus and which was pretty much his car. From which he heard the toads on the lake, felt the cool breeze in his hair, and sniffed the sticky, buggy Jersey summer air...
We are all growing up now. Babies and marriages and big jobs and disenchantment, a fiancee had died 5 years ago, a woman questioned what a great mother she was, one felt smothered when her children asked for milk, one said she was not a "kid person," one said he was a Peter Pan, one had three children and went back to Peddie and now teaches there. Happily.
And me? Me, you may ask, my Little Blades... Welp, going home did 5 major things for me:
1. Got me excited for having my own family.
2. Reminded me that I deserve the best. To be loved and surrounded by love all the time.
3. Reinforced that I have worked very very hard for all of the grand success that is coming my way.
4. Was life-affirming. There is SO much LOVE for me out in this wilding world. Lots of invitations and support, excitement for me, and still some love in the eyes of the boys from the days gone by...
5. Showed me in every way possible that -- you can always go home.
And on this note, to all of my little blades, near and far, I thank you for strolling down memory lane once again with me... I hope you all have experiences as extraordinary as I have at Peddie.
Where a young girl dreamed of the many things she now is as a woman. And yet... there are still many dreams to bring into reality. Glowingly.
May you all feel the same way about your lives. Know your worth. As Louise says in Thelma and Louise, "You get what you settle for."
Being home again, back East, reminded me that I am worth -- well, a lot. Priceless. We all are. Let us -- none of us -- settle for anything less.