Monday, May 21, 2007

Reliving My Old Haunts

Maybe I should blame it on graduation, but I think it has a whole lot more to do with the late stage of pregnancy. Every night I am visited, no haunted, by people and scenes from my early twenties. When I awoke in the middle of the night, last night, to think about why I was dreaming about my roomate from Boston (14 years ago!), I started wondering if it had to do with the knowledge that so many of my students are embarking on their adventures, moving to fabulous cities, finding new friends, and becoming who they are. I started wondering if I was jealous? Do I want my twenties back? I admit to flipping through some of their facebook photos and reminiscing about my own good times before a mortgage, a full time job, and commitment.

I hope those of you who have graduated realize what a magical time this is in your life. I really believe that the years after college graduation came to define me more than any others. I broke free of the artificial cliques that dominated my college life (yes, I too went to a liberal arts college with lots of wealth and social pressure). I moved across the country, not knowing a soul. I had my first real job. And, with total delight, I grew up. I was poor. I didn't have a serious relationship. I didn't have any prospects for making lots of money on the horizon and having a baby was the very last thing on my mind. I wasn't ready for it.

Waiting until my late thirties to have a baby has been one of the best decisions that I ever made, even if it haunts me a little at night. If I had settled down, gotten married, and had children during any point in my twenties, I wouldn't be the mother that I will be able to be. I have travelled, lived in lots of cities, pursued my dreams, been totally irresponsible and then grown up because of it, and read a lot. I would like to think that interesting mothers make for interesting children and if my twenties did one thing for me, those years made me interesting.

I just wish I didn't have to revisit all those people and scenes in my dreams right now. While I am captivated by the memories during my sleep, I wake up in a pained, bittersweet state of mind. I look at my enormous belly and think about what baby preparations I have to make today and I realize that for a time, at least, those carefree years are gone. I don't want to perpetuate that life; that is why I chose to become a mother. I was ready for a new phase, a new experience, a new challenge.

I think that what really haunts me about these dreams is the realization that there is so much unfinished business from that time; so many paths I didn't take. I seem to be reliving the pivotal choices I made--the friendships I lost, the opportunities I turned down, and the people that I seemed to have left behind. Every life is built on these losses, these choices, and I don't think we ever forget them, though they haunt us less and less (unless we get pregnant!) as we get older and embrace the choices we did make.