Nine years ago today, I got married. And for the past couple of days, I’ve been reflecting on that–not so much about how much I regret having been married or who I was married to or anything even related to being married, but, rather, where I’ve been since then.
Really, my ex-anniversary (is it still an anniversary if you don’t celebrate or even really acknowledge it?) is a marker, a reason for me to recognize what time is and what it does to people.
A lot of stuff has happened. I think of my friend Krystal’s daughter, Rebecca who is just about to turn six, and consider just how much stuff we do in (what seems like) a relatively small amount of time. In two thirds the amount of time since I got married, Rebecca’s learned to crawl, walk, talk, run, ride a bike, read, tie her shoes, count, use sign language, play chess (and kick my butt from time to time). She’s become a big sister, taken gymnastics and highland dance lessons, memorized the lyrics to scores of songs, done some pretty cool art work, lived in at least five different houses, two states and three or four towns. She’s wrestled with notions of religion, war, death, friendship and love. She’s done some pretty big stuff and if you were to meet her, you’d be able to recognize her experience immediately. She’s a cool kid. And I’m not just saying that because she’s the only five year old I know or because I know and love her parents or because I met her when she was a few days old or because, on one of the worst days of my life, she asked me to be her big sister.
I’m telling you all about Rebecca because, when I think about where I’ve been and what I’ve done in the past nine years, when I consider all that’s happened in my life in that time, I realize that, in many ways, Rebecca’s life will be more affected by the stuff that’s happened to her in the last six years than I will by the stuff that’s happened to me in the last nine.
Certainly, many of the things that have occured have created huge scars. Scott’s death, of course, is the largest and I hope and pray the impact it’s had on me will affect me forever. I’ve no doubt it will. But other things–living in Puerto Rico, completing two college degrees, getting a divorce, the eight or so jobs I’ve had, most of the people I’ve met–while they have changed me considerably, they don’t affect me as much as many of what we tend to see as ‘simple things’ Rebecca has done/learned.
This puts things in great perspective for me as I consider where I’ve been/where I’m going. And this is an especially good thing as this week moves towards what I’ve been thinking of as one of the most important days of my life. On Friday I’ll have a pretty intense interview–the last, I hope–for a job that I’ve been aiming myself towards for some time. And I’ve been concentrating not on what I need to do to get the job, but what might happen if I don’t. I forget, sometimes, that not getting this job isn’t one of those big life-changing things. Getting it might be, but not getting it is, well, just another let down. (And there’ve been plenty of those.)
So I’m trying to remind myself to focus on the things that matter, not on the little stuff. The little stuff is always there, giving us little pokes and prods that we don’t even really feel unless we concentrate on it enough. The big stuff, on the other hand–that’s the stuff that hurts, or feels really really good; it’s the stuff that points you in new directions.
If I get this job, I’ll be pointed in a new direction. If not, I’ll still be headed the same way I’m headed right now. Either way, I need to look to March 16th not to reflect on the day I married an idiot, but the day I got married, and started heading towards where I am right now.
Were I to read over this mini-essay, I’d find all sorts of places that need clarification (some heavy editing and probably some proof reading, too). But I don’t think I need to do that. Writing this has taught me what I needed to learn.
For weeks now I’ve been thinking of some pretty drastic things I could do if I don’t get this job. There’s no sense in making such plans. The big stuff will still be here for me to deal with.