I went home for a Christmas celebration last weekend. It was very rushed, but a good time, nonetheless. It was nice to see my sisters, my mom, and my nieces and nephews. It was also mass chaos, with 11 people sleeping* in the house.
While I was home, I also decided to meet up with some people that I last saw at our 8th grade graduation ceremony. One girl sent me a friend request on Facebook, and before you knew it, there were 5 or 6 of us trying to arrange a mini reunion. Reconnecting with your childhood is a very strange and wonderful thing. Because it was a small group and because it's been 27 years, there were no lingering tensions. Everyone was simply pleased to see everyone else, meet spouses, hear about lives and children, and gossip about those who were not there.
At some point during the night, I went outside to talk to my husband on my cell phone. It was a cold night (22 degrees with a brutal wind chill), and I was huddled against the wind. Three young men (maybe legal, but certainly not of drinking age) walked by and one of them suggested that maybe I would like him to help me warm up. He even opened his coat to invite me over. It made me laugh, but also made me feel young again.
While giving a brief overview of my life, I came to a realization. At least for me, all of the things that I've experienced have been necessary to get me to life as I know it. If I had married earlier and tried to start a family, I would have gone through a great many more miscarriages before I would have been able to seek additional help. If I had not wasted my 20s on a loser, I would not have been available when I met my husband.
That experiences prepare you for life is not exactly a stunning realization. But these things weren't exactly experiences that shaped who I am - they were more like placeholders to get me to the points where I needed to be in order to get the life I have. I think this is a little more palatable to me - I don't care to think of myself as being the sum of my experiences. I'd prefer that my experiences are just the scenery along the path of my life. I remain essentially unchanged. I am still the slightly obnoxious, socially inept but somewhat likeable, smart girl that I was when I was 13.
I guess I now know why I don't feel like I'm 40. At heart, I am still that 13 year old girl, with a lot less fear, a little more knowledge and understanding, and the same amount of patience (none). It's a good feeling to know that you're still the same, no matter how much you've changed.
*Well, some people were sleeping. I was not one of them. The first night, I awoke after 2 hours of sleep to find that my air bed had deflated and my nose was cold (my sister is the energy miser - she turns the heat down to 60 at night). I proceeded to spend the rest of that night and the next night sharing a twin bed with a 3 year old bed hog who really likes to sleep with her arm pressed tightly around your neck. Makes breathing difficult and sleep about impossible.