Life happens. Well, that’s the polite term. The reality is that shit happens and life does not always turn out to be that fairy tale we dreamt of as little girls, or little boys for that matter, I suppose. But since I’m female, I’ll write from that perspective.
So, here I sit in my baggy sweats again today. Comfortably pulling them up when I move from my desk chair, over the needing-to-be-vacuumed (and shampooed!) basic, beige carpet of my gorgeous loft apartment in downtown. I adore the sloppy, lived in feeling of my grey long sleeved t-shirt with my baggy sweats, and the zip-up hooded sweat shirt that I throw on when I get chilly.
Yup. Shit happens. When I was but a child, a little wide-eyed girl of about all of six or maybe seven years old, I remember telling my mom that I wanted to “be a doctor” when I grew up. But, like many wide-eyed girls of mine and previous generations, I remember Ozzie and Harriet, Jackie Gleason and his wife (I don t remember HER name, but her friend was Ethel I think), Father Knows Best, and all the other TV shows of the late 1950s and the 1960s that influenced my subconscious train of thought and defined who I was as a woman.
Then there was Sonny and Cher. Tina and Ike Turner. The Beatles. Disco in the 1970s, by which time I was a teenager and in total rebellion of the era—but yet wanting my knight in shining armor to rescue me. Eventually there was “Calgon, take me away” as the woman fell backward in desperation, needing to be rescued from the stress of life in the modern world. In other words, the message I was getting from family (wife dependent on husband), society (“that’s woman’s or men’s work), and the media (okay, we’ll let Farrah do detective work but she has to be sexy doing it) was mixed. I had no idea who I was. It was confusing growing up in this changing society, sandwiched between I Love Lucy and today’s woman of empowerment.
So today, I sit in my baggy sweats. Remembering the choices I made as a young adult that lay the foundation for my lifetime. I lacked the direction as a young adult to choose education as my way into the future. (Neither of my parents was educated.) Like many women from this past, I leaned on others to give me the strength and paint the picture for what my future would look like. I married at nineteen. I had a daughter. I divorced at twenty. I worked at jobs to pay the bills that required no experience or training, like waitressing and sales in a health club. I married again when I was just twenty-four, to a working man like my father. A blue-collar kind of guy.
So, here I am, fifty years old. Two terrific kids, one girl, one boy and BOTH of them are independent and have college educations. And now it’s my turn, but I’m not sure where to turn. What do I do when I “grow up?” In the decades past, we became grandma and grandpa, holding our gender-specific roles. But as I look at me I don’t resemble the grandmas of the past. I’m not an older June Cleaver, baking cookies for the grandkids or attending Ladies Circle social clubs, that I remember my own mother doing. I don’t have a husband’s retirement or social security to depend on and I don’t have investments of my own having not had a “career” of my own.
Instead, I find myself a remnant of a tad of June’s generation and a bit of rock n’ roll, a dab of a wish for a road trip on a big ole Harley Davidson (some day?), a scoop of technology mixed well with life experience and wisdom. I’m a mixture of the best of the past five decades; from dependency to empowerment. But the million dollar question is—where do I fit today?
So yes, shit happens. Life happens. Good things, bad things, scary things happen to all of us. These experiences are what makes us who we are. Some of us will stumble along the way in searching for who we are. So I guess this little ditty is for them; those like me, whose life did not turn out to be that rose garden and our paths are not lain out for us like in generations past when we married for life, raised our kids, and moved to Florida to retire. Let’s take what life has given us and make lemonade. Let’s learn to let go of what wasn’t and never will be and forgive the things that were. Let’s let go of the past, hold hope for the future, and live in the moment.