As the clock struck midnight early Thursday morning, a small revelation shook me all the way to my rotten center. Now, this may be a stretch for some to understand why this realization got to me like it did, but the fact that it is now 2009 sent me into a miniature panic.
There are a number of reasons for this reaction: 1) My younger brother will graduate high school this year. 2) I'm will turn 27 in a couple months, and 3) I am now only one year away from my 10-year high school reunion.
Funny, even as I read these back to myself...they all seem pretty absurd. My brother is eight years younger than I am, and I suppose I still look at him as a little kid, but he is going to graduate high school, which leads me into the third reason for the freak-out. It feels like I just graduated myself. When did these nine years slip by? When did I allow myself to turn 27? I'M STILL 17!!!!
The more I reflect back on the years gone by, I realize that it may feel like yesterday that I was in high school, but so much has happened and so much has changed that I probably would not be able to recognize the person I used to be. Since I left high school, I've gone to college...left college...went BACK to college...graduated college...got a number of jobs...got married...bought a house...and in two months I'm going to have a baby. These are the significant moments of my life, and it becomes easier to see where those years went.
I look back at the days when I was 18 and I wonder, first off, how I survived any of it. I look back on the friendships that meant so much at the time, and feel that twinge of sadness that some of those friends have gone their own way. I remember how easy it was to fall in love when I was a teen, and how I was sure that I knew what love really was and what it really meant. I also remember how easy it was to fall out of love.
The little things in life that could make or break me back in those days seem so small, but they stick in my head as the things that have had the biggest impact on me now. The relationships that didn't work for whatever reason, the meetings and partings that seemed to happen all in one instant, and the conversations that seemed so huge at the time are all just little memories...some good and some bad.
I admit that I miss some of these people, but it was in the failures of those relationships that I have learned how to make a relationship work.
When you do the math, I am three years away from 30 and nine from 18...I'm just as close to being an 18-year-old as a 9-year-old elementary school student. Then I realize I'm an adult, and as much as I don't really want to be one, I am.
In the past year I have become a married man and the future father of a child that I can only explain as a future kickboxer from his current hobby of kicking my wife in her ribs. I am not the same person I used to be, and I really thank God for that. Growing up is a wonderfully terrifying experience. I miss some of the old friends that I've lost along the way. Sometimes their names or faces pop into my head, and I wonder what they are doing now, but I am beginning to really look at the future much more than the past.
For the people who read this column, I have to say...let go of all the things that weigh you down, all the things from the past and look toward the future. Forget about the girl that got away and appreciate the one standing right next to you, and don't be afraid of getting older and balder. I used to have a lovely head of hair, but not so much anymore and that's fine...the less I have to spend on hair products.
Without knowing it, I have passed from childhood into adulthood, and so far it's been pretty nice. So, goodbye 18 and hello 30...I won't be freaking out again for 10 years. Now 40, that's scary.
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