RTW: Right Here, Right Now


From YA Highway:
Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question to write about on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
How did you spend the summer after graduation?

The summer after I graduated from high school was probably not as lame as I remember.  Or maybe it was.

I worked for a temp agency, filling in as an administrative assistant at various local businesses.  I tutored.  I babysat.  I cleaned houses.  I shopped for necessary items for dorm life - an ironing board, a laundry basket, flip-flops for the shower.  You know, important stuff that grown-up college students need.  I spent time with friends when I wasn't working - movies, Twins games, hanging out and talking about the future.  I was a vegetarian, I didn't wear leather and made sure that none of my beauty or personal care products were tested on animals.  I joined Greenpeace.

I wrote - a lot.  Snippets of short stories.  Poems - really bad ones.  Letters to friends.  I wrote in my journal with Crayola Bold Skinny Markers.

I just wanted to get on with my life,  be a grown-up.

As I jotted down notes for this post on Tuesday night, I was in the maintenance/storage room in my basement trying to get our water heater to reset.  It's been on the fritz for about a year, but we haven't called to have it looked at because I'm in total denial that we will need to replace it.  We just reset it over and over and over and some mornings, because we'd forgotten to check it, we take cold showers.

My kids had finally settled down after a late gymnastics night.  I was in the middle of a frantic blitzclean of the house - Hammer Guy comes home tonight after a week in Seattle and I have a new babysitter coming so I can go to Bunco across the street.  How much do neighborhood middle schoolers get paid for babysitting these days?  I don't even know.

At work yesterday I utilized my two, count them TWO, degrees by putting together a mass mailing of certificates and window clings.  I dashed off another post for my blog on the Patch during dinner.  And by the time I sat down to have a cup of coffee at 10:30 after folding four loads of laundry, my creative energy was zilch.  No journal writing with bright markers for me - or any writing, for that matter.

That is just a snapshot of what my grown-up life is like at this moment, the summer after graduation a swirl of wispy memories.

This morning my kids and I talked about the new babysitter.  It's Toad's friend's older sister.  They stay home alone during the summer and the sister is in charge.

Toad sighed.  "I suppose I'll have to do that in a couple of years," he said.

I calculated.  "Not for a few years yet, Buddy," I said.  Fourteen, I think, is a good age to stay home and take care of your little sister all day, every day during the summer.  Fourteen was the age I had my first nanny job.

"Wait a minute," I said, "I won't be working then.  I'll stay home!  I'll be a full-time writer!  We'll do fun things!"

There was a pause.  "Mom," he said, "you can't tell the future."

Oh.  He's partly right.

The summer after I graduated, I was certain that someday I would be an award-winning journalist/activist/bestselling novelist.  Fact is, I get seasick, so chances are I would have been miserable on one of the Greenpeace boats anyway.  That would have made for a terrific column.

So what's the point?  As much as things have changed since that summer after I graduated from high school, on the cusp of an amazing adventure called life, a lot has stayed the same.  While not a vegetarian, I don't eat a ton of meat.  While the plight of dolphins ending up in your can of tuna still concerns me, I'm more likely to advocate for the plight of humans and on a more local level (these days, it's mainly watching out for my kids and being a good neighbor). 

More than anything, I'm still a dreamer.  Maybe I can't tell the future, but I can still dream about it.  Maybe if I'd tried harder to live in the moment I would have enjoyed that summer before college a little more, a lesson I still strive to master. 

Yes, I'm living right here, right now: an underemployed mom with two young kids, a chaotic calendar, a broken water heater.  But I won't give up on my dreams.


Comments

  1. This is such a beautiful post, Sara. So honest, and so real. I think we all had those wispy dreams after high school, and were perhaps a little too preoccupied with the future rather than just living in the moment. I still struggle with that in my 30s, but I'm trying (and I think succeeding) to not get ahead of myself and miss everything now. I really enjoyed reading this and getting to know a little bit more about you. :)

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    1. Thank you, Jaime! It's hard to find a good balance, isn't it? I imagine it's something I'll work on for the rest of my life, because I'll never stop dreaming.

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  2. A great response, Sara! There were a lot of things I could have done between 18 and 21 that I passed on, and now wish I hadn't. Not that I regret anything, but I wish I had been more willing to step outside my comfort zone and do things I wouldn't normally do--push myself harder to live up to my potential. That sounds such a grown-up cliched thing to say... but as I look at my teenage kids, I only hope they take that tired old cliche to heart, because as much as we may roll our eyes when we hear it, it's true.

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    1. Thanks, Colin. You know, I didn't think about regret when I wrote this. Regret is one thing I've never allowed myself to feel, so I'm glad to hear you say you don't regret anything. No matter what decisions I've made in my life, I have not felt regret because everything I've done has brought me to this point, and this is where I'm supposed to be right now.

      I've got that list of things I wish I'd done in those years, too, but luckily the list of things I'm glad I did is longer.

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  3. It is always interesting to hear from people looking back. Still being in the throws of university and student life I can't even begin to imagine what my life will look like in the future! Sure, I also have those wispy dreams but I'm also realistic and while I will strive for them to come true I'm not opposed for my life to take another path.

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    1. Ah, student life. I loved it. I often say that if I could, I would be a student forever. Enjoy your time as a student and enjoy your wispy dreams, too. It sounds like you have the right attitude!

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  4. Such a beautiful post Sara. Really, beautiful. I especially like and agree with this: "More than anything, I'm still a dreamer. Maybe I can't tell the future, but I can still dream about it"!
    Very nicely said. Very poetic and very true! Thank you so much for sharing (and I do hope the heater gets better!)

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    1. Thanks, Elodie. I can't imagine what life would be like without all those dreams along the way. Some came true, some didn't, some not yet, but it's made for an interesting ride.

      I hope the water heater gets better, too! :)

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  5. If only we could tell the future...but you're right, we can still dream about it, and just hope that our dreams might become reality one day :)

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    1. You gotta believe in your dreams! And keep dreaming new ones. :)

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  6. How ironic that we push ourselves to be so adult and grown up when we're young, and we long for the wispy memories of being young when we're grown.

    With writing like this I'm sure you will find the kind of success you dream about :)

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    1. That's life, isn't it? Thanks for your encouragement - I hope you're right!

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  7. The writing in this post is so beautiful! The way that you wrote about those wispy summer days is perfect for a YA novel.

    I hope that your water heater is working properly soon!

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    1. Thank you, Crystal. You know, three of my manuscripts take place during the summer - I hadn't thought about that before. And I love to read summer books. Oddly enough, summer is not my favorite season, but I have such fond memories of summers growing up. Minnesota is a great place for that. :)

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  8. Wonderful post! I'm having a Peter Pan moment right now. I recently turned 20. After reading this and thinking about how I don't have an ironing board and how I don't want to worry about water heaters, I have decided I don't want to grow up!

    Okay, so that may only be semi-true. But we can always keep dreaming big! ;-)

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    1. Thanks! You have plenty of time before you have to grow up and worry about water heaters. The 20s are what I like to call "provisional adulthood." Enjoy it! And keep dreaming. :)

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  9. Congratulations, Sara! You were selected for a Liebster Award! Check out my blog for more information: http://emilyheartsbooks.blogspot.com/2012/06/liebster-award.html

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  10. Hey, this was a great post. I feel the same as you, all these pressures of having kids and being an adult and dealing with things that sometimes we don't want to deal with, but not letting all that kill the dream of being a writer.

    And btw, you won Insurgent on my blog! If you could email me your address, I'll mail it right away.
    mmstanford(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Melanie! My day started on such a high note when I saw this comment that I won Insurgent but didn't end so well.

      That phrase - kill the dream - is fitting for my mood tonight. Sometimes it feels like this process, this dream, is taking so long and I'll never see the success I dream about. And I'm not talking about Stephen King-sized success here. But as Scarlett O'Hara would say, tomorrow is another day. I'm sure my attitude will improve and I'll go back to working hard toward that dream.

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  11. Sara,
    I stopped over from the comment you left on my website, and I love your post. Don't give up on your dreams. After a decade of writing and rejection, I decided that the only way I was going to get my dream was to go out and make it happen for myself. No regrets there. Just be true to yourself, your writing and your family. Your dreams are your, and no one can take them from you. Thanks for posting. I will find you on YALITCHAT.

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  12. Gosh, if we were all following the same path our 18 year old selves thought we would, what a different place our world would be :) I guess you'd still be in Greenpeace, huh?

    I started college, then switched majors 4 times, switched schools 3 times, and finished 6 years later with 2 Bachelor's degrees. I met the love of my life, and moved several hundred miles away from home. It's crazy how fast the time goes and how different the hopes and dreams are every step of the way.

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