There was this nagging feeling I had, not that either of us weren’t mature enough to have a cup of coffee together as adults, but about something I did to him back in the day.
Or didn’t do.
Basically communicate effectively at the end.
As an adult, I think back to the former me, and still shake my head in disbelief. I was such an awful person back then. That I could ever treat anyone with such disrespect. But when I brought this up over coffee, so many years later, he laughed it off and said something to the effect of:
“We can’t be held responsible for what we did when we were like 20, 21….I mean really…we all did really senseless things back then”.
I was so relieved after all these years, and have thought about that sentiment often since, letting myself off the hook for quite a few dumb choices while repeating these words to myself.
I do however think back to that time in my 20s, and I may not have had much sense but I was fearless.
I moved from location to location following my career. I lived alone.
I explored new cities and towns when I traveled, all by myself.
I had no qualms about going into a restaurant by myself. Drinking wine by myself. Going to the movies by myself. It wasn’t easy at the time, but when I forced myself, in the end, I was empowered by it.
My last state move, to Vermont, was no different. After the first few weeks of crying, wondering how I could make such a crazy mistake, thinking I could adapt to life in the country, I finally settled on a 3-bedroom house just for me. I need to be happy, right? Nesting is good.
When I was first learning to love the nature-girl life, I embraced it on my own.
I went for hikes in the woods.
Said yes to learning weird hobbies from new friends: foraging, running on river rocks, fishing, cruising around in the evening looking for critter sightings…
Once I learned what people around here did for fun, I went for it. I would run from river rock to river rock without worry, up and down my favorite spot along the Big Branch in Mount Tabor and go out looking for wild mushrooms deep in the woods.
And going solo? Never worried about it.
Last night, I was reminded of the younger, bold but senseless me , when I was on the phone with my husband, who is traveling this week. We were talking about what activities Brett and I had on the agenda for the week. I really want to go mushroom hunting; because there should be a ton of chanterelle mushrooms in the woods, but am not really used to going on my own anymore.
I asked my husband, “do you think it’s safe for us to go up to our favorite spot in the National Forest, alone?”
My husband sounded startled. “of course, it should be”, he said “why wouldn’t it be?”
I hung up the phone and wondered, when did I turn into that person who hesitates?
Who stops, and misses out, because she is scared?
There was one incidence, after I had lived in Manchester for a few years. There was a snowmobile trail from one side road near my house that opened up to the woods, eventually bringing you out over a walking bridge, that came out onto another side road. One day as I was walking from one side of the bridge to the next, I heard voices. Hiding behind a tree, I slowly took a few more steps, and then a few more, until I could see what was up.
Two stringy-haired guys, in their 20s perhaps, were taking tree branches and slamming them down on the windshield of an old beat up muscle car they had dumped there. Crushed beer cans surrounded them. I turned around immediately and ran all the way home.
I suppose this could have been when I started rethinking solo walks deep in the woods as I never went over the bridge again after that.
Who knows who could be lurking around?
What if I wasn’t able to turn around?
What if they saw me?
What if? What if? What if?
All these thoughts in my head; I never used to worry like this.
I never needed to rely on someone else to do what I wanted to do.
But as a woman, and a mom, 15 years later, I have way too much sense for my own good.
So many years of anxiety about keeping my kid with a life-threatening food allergy safe.
I’m always at-the-ready with a safe snack and a few Wet Ones.
When it snows? Or if there is any inkling of black ice lurking on the roads, I don’t drive. It’s not safe.
Chemicals and insecticides in the environment and on our foods? Ugh. Must stay away from them too.
What else should I worry about?
Be careful on those river rocks, you might slip!
As I think back to that sentiment: We shouldn’t be responsible for what we did way back then, I realize after years of gaining more sense, something I desperately needed, I need to dial it back a notch and throw some of it to the wind…
I don’t want to resurrect the insensitive qualities of my early-adulthood of course, but need to get over the constant worry.
Can I be bold, and have common sense at the same time, can those qualities realisticially live side-by-side?
I’m tired of missing out. Tired of making decisions for my son that will cause him to miss out as well.
What if there was a weird psychopath on the trail? I think to myself…
What are the odds?
We’ll be ok…
As we rumbled along the deserted gravel road leading to the chanterelle spot we saw a sign:
Road Closed. Gated
Well, no chanterelles today I guess, but we enjoyed Plan B instead.
Not quite running , but some slow climbing on the river rocks.
And it felt so good to be out there again.
The breeze. The beauty of the rocks. The sound of the water.
I just saw a glimpse of my old-younger self again, and want to push myself back, but forward, just a little bit each day, so I can see this side of me a little more often…
Do you have moments when you don’t recognize yourself today? Without wanting to go back, are there qualities you had then you wish you could get back again?
Would love to hear your stories and comments.