In the next couple of months, several friends are moving away, a couple of friends are having babies (and several more are trying to get pregnant), and most of us who became close when our babies were still actually babies will be sending our kids off to preschool (Jackson starts school two months from today, the day after I turn 38). I am feeling the passing of time and the weight of impending decisions more than ever. I keep watching as people who have been traveling a similar path as I have (or who have at least been nearby or traveling at about the same pace) suddenly veer in different directions and change speeds, and I’m feeling a little sad and a little introspective (should I be veering, too? and if so, which way? should I speed up? slow down? if I stay right where I am, will everyone keep leaving? will new people come to fill the empty spaces?).
It feels very much like a time of transition, and, rather than flowing into the next stage seamlessly, the air feels more turbulent than I’d like. I wish I could slam on the brakes and freeze time as it is now, with my son still young and my cats still here and my family intact–and change far enough away that it isn’t threatening today’s equilibrium. But, of course, I can’t. The clock is ticking, people are moving, babies will be born, and our kids will keep growing, growing. Change, I know, is constant.
I’ve been reading my horoscope more than usual lately, searching, I guess, for answers to questions I can’t quite articulate. When people write to me for advice, what they’re often asking isn’t so much “What should I do?” (Well, sometimes it is). But instead it’s: “What will happen if I choose this?” Or, “What will happen if I choose that?” Will I be happy? Will it all work out? And now I am asking those questions myself. Of course, I’m thinking in terms of having another child, which is probably pretty obvious, but it’s more than that. It’s more than what I’m able to articulate. It’s just … a feeling, and one I can’t quite put my finger on. I guess I’m taking the temperature of my whole life right now, thinking about the big-big picture — like where I see myself not just five years from now but, like, 30 years from now, and what path I need to be on to achieve the things I want. What are the things I want?
I didn’t expect to still be having these kinds of thoughts at my age. I think that’s what’s been most surprising about getting older — that I don’t have it all figured out yet (and my friends don’t seem to either, so I know it’s not just me). I really, truly thought that at some age — and I don’t know what that magic age is, just that it would be some time BY NOW — I’d have a pretty clear idea where my life was headed, or at the very least, where I wanted it to head. And now I’m here, at this stage that I thought by now would be so… I don’t know, set, and I’m realizing it isn’t exactly. Anything can still happen. Directions can be veered. New paths can be crossed. New dreams can be dreamt. And, sure, it’s a little exciting, but it’s also exactly what you’d expect it to be when everything isn’t all set — it’s a little unsettling, too.
I started riding my bike again just last week and I’ve only been out on a few rides, but already that familiar feeling of weightlessness has returned, if only for the brief moments that I’m flying downhill, my feet barely touching the pedals, the wind whistling past, the wheels spinning, spinning, spinning. Every time I go more than a few months without riding and I pull out my bike again, I always wonder the same thing: Why did I stop? Why didn’t I do this sooner?
Next week I head to Chicago for a few days, all by myself. I mean, I won’t be by myself; I’ll be with my friends. It’s a reunion weekend, and we travel from different cities to spend a few days in each other’s company: on the beach, on the deck, in the lake. We sing and cook meals together and share new cocktail recipes and it’s the best. I’ll leave Drew and Jackson and, hopefully, the weight of indecision and the longing to have it all figured out, at home, and I’ll just be. I don’t expect I’ll be any closer to the answers I’m seeking by the time I get home, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t care as much.
The older I get the more I realize there’s so much I don’t know. But I do know this: there’s little in life that a downhill bike ride, a good night’s sleep, and a trip to the water with people you love won’t make you feel a whole lot better about.