January 22, 2013 at 7:30 am | Posted in Life and Living | Leave a comment
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This past weekend I went to my old high school to see the senior show.  My best friend from when I was in high school was directing it, and I always go to her shows to support her.  But this show was different for me than any in the past.  Aside from being in my old high school, I actually knew some of the kids.  They were kids that I babysat when they were 3,4, and 5 years old.  As the show went on, I didn’t even recognize 2 of them, but 1 I knew, and when she started singing her solo, I was amazed and almost brought to tears with the voice that came from her.  I was so proud, all these years later.

Truth be told — if someone was to point out one of my babysitters from when I was a kid, I would not remember them to save my life.  But I couldn’t resist.  I recognized the parents of one of the kids in the audience and had to introduce myself.  I hadn’t seen them since I was 17, but I don’t look that different and they remembered me.  They pulled their son over to meet me again, and I knew he wouldn’t remember me. Like I said, he was way too young.  But before me was a man, a 16 year old man that I used to care for.  It was a very sobering reality that I really am not a kid anymore. How can I be?  The kids I watched aren’t kids anymore.

Back to the girl with the solo.  I got to see her and her parents after the show and was amazed that she actually remembered me.  She was one of my favorite kids (I probably watched over 20 kids in my 6 year career as a babysitter), and she said to me, “You were my favorite babysitter!” and I just melted.  I could hold on to that moment forever.

In watching the show, I was really taken back to when I was once on that same stage.  I remember my relationships and the social situation in school.  I remember and still reminisce about the crazy and sometimes stupid things I did at that age.  As I watched these young men and women bop around on stage for what is likely to be for most of them the last time they ever do something like that, I realized that it was their turn, that these young people were doing all the things that I did.

After a wide-eyed mini heart attack I realized that that was the time to do this.  I came to college way ahead of many of my classmates because of my experiences in high school.  Through my work I see a very different kind of teenager, an urban teenager.  They don’t have the same life experiences as these suburban kids for sure.  They have to deal with much more serious stuff.  These kids have very little to worry about and can make many dumb mistakes knowing that in the end, everything will be okay.

I also realized this.  Some of the emotions you have in high school don’t change.  I look at people I knew when I was young who married their high school sweethearts and I realize how important those formative years really are.  What age does for you is give you more time for more experiences, more time apart from what has happened to review with a new perspective.  There is a lot that you learn, but you can be just as confused or just as certain in your emotions at 30 as you are at 18.

In being with these kids, I immediately felt the need to care for them, to mentor them, kind of like a big sister.  They are about to go off on their next journey, one where they will have to take on a new world of responsibility that they never knew before.  I wanted to hold them close and let them know that it will be fun and it will be okay.  But somehow, they will learn this their own way, as I have.

Will You Remember Me?

January 25, 2011 at 7:33 am | Posted in Friends Then and Now | 8 Comments
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A few months ago, I was walking through a local grocery store in my Sunday best (read — pajamas) picking up my food for the week.  Not surprisingly, it was pretty crowded, but somehow, in the craziness, I ran into someone I knew, or rather, someone who knew me.  Someone I probably should have known, but for some reason couldn’t place him right away.

Why didn’t I recognize this person?  Did he really look that different… seven years ago?  No, no, he didn’t…. did he?  I really don’t know.

This really bothered me.  One of the traits I take pride in is my ability to remember everybody, their middle name, their birthday, their address, and their mother’s name.  I am the person who says to my best friend from high school, “remember so and so?” and she just doesn’t remember anybody so her answer is typically no.

So what does this all mean?  Am I going to start forgetting people I knew all my life?  Am I going to lose the capacity to remember the names of people I meet?  Or even worse… what does this mean for those who know me?  Will they forget I exist?  Will they remember me?

It’s part of the human condition to want to be remembered, want to know you had an impact on somebody.  That’s why we have graves.  That’s why we name our children after family members. That’s why people strive to be famous (or infamous). That’s why writers want to be published (wink).

But you can’t guarantee that everyone will remember you.   Some faces will fall through the cracks, even if you did hang out with them a bunch of times. And sometimes, it will just take a little bit longer to remember some people, as your brain continues to take in images of the new people entering your life.  And sometimes, you’ll need to count on your friends to jog your memory.

That said, I really hope I’ve had an impact on a lot of people’s lives because a lot of people have had impacts on mine, and I plan to remember a lot of people.

Thanks for Not Smoking

October 19, 2010 at 7:55 am | Posted in Life and Living | 204 Comments
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Last week, I arrived late at night to a hotel on a business trip.  I couldn’t wait to get into my room and just relax.  On the first try, they sent me to a room that was already occupied by my photographer (somehow they thought we were sharing a room and I was not about to share a room with my male colleague, though it did make for an interesting story the next day)  So they gave me another room.  At this point, it’s about 11:30 at night and I had a meeting at 8 AM.  I just wanted to shower and go to bed.  Turns out, this room was a smoking room.  They still have those?  Apparently!  I couldn’t bare going back downstairs to ask for another room, and I reasoned with myself that I wouldn’t be in there that much, so I sucked it up… and it sucked!

I’m not a smoker.  Never have been, never will be.  And quite frankly, I don’t understand people who still are.  I can’t imagine paying $9 a pack for something that will slowly kill me.  I was thrilled when smoking was banned in restaurants and bars, and I’ve gotten so used to not breathing in smoke, that when I walk down the street I get offended when somebody six feet away from me is smoking.

But I wasn’t always so against smoking.  I had a lot of good friends and boyfriends that smoked (some eek — still do), and many people assumed that I did too, probably because of the company I kept.  Kids my age smoked when they hung out, when they drove around, when they went clubbing or bar hopping. Smoking was “cool.” And of course, I had to try it.  How could I make an educated decision without trying it?  I think trying smoking is a rite of passage.  It’s when you make the right decision not to be a smoker that you can be declared a responsible adult.

So sorry mom and dad.  I tried smoking for the first time in 7th grade.  I was hanging out with friends in town when we came across an abandoned pack, probably left behind by other teenagers scared off by lurking cops.  Over the years, I would have a cigarette on occasion, but there was never any commitment.

I think there can be a time and place for smoking; a rare time and place when you are just so hammered or hungover nothing will help except a little inhalation.  I do credit cigarettes with helping me recover from an alcohol-induced upset stomach on occasion (hey, we all have our remedies). Of course, at the point I was already doing a ton of damage.

But all in all, I can’t stand smoking.  It’s amazing to me the change in the culture of smoking that has taken place in my lifetime.  It’s certainly been a long time coming!  It’s great that my kids won’t have to inhale the stuff everywhere they go like past generations.  Now, if only smoking was banned in hotels, I would have slept much better.  One day, I’m sure.  One day.

Want to hear from a reformed smoker?  Click here!

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