Awhile back, I wrote a blogpost about trains in which I made a reference to a notebook I wrote in while aboard a train on my way to college for the first time. I indicated that it would probably be good for a chuckle. I recently happened upon that long forgotten notebook and not only did I laugh a little, mostly I groaned at what my children have referred to as my "Anne of Green Gables" tendencies.
Miranda, this one's for you... (I promise I will not edit, I promise I will not edit, I promise...)
Written in the Fall of 1981:
"Well, any attempt at sleep seems futile! I can't understand; usually traveling can drop me off automatically. I suppose my sleeplessness is due to all the thoughts of anticipation and apprehension racing through my mind.
(This next part is particularly embarrassing...)
"If I were to illustrate my life at this moment, I could use my paints to fill a canvas with bright, expectant flashes of fiery red and orange, while contrasting it with subdued tones of hazy blue and gray, portraying my feelings of sadness, anxiety, and yes, even occasional dread. The kaleidoscope of color would combine to represent a young girl leaving the secure life of dependence to encounter the terrifying, yet hopefully fulfilling life of independent adulthood.
"Of course, the painting would also show a young woman looking much younger than her eighteen years, yet somehow struggling to attain a more sophistocated aire, having painfully put to the back of her closet the high school bib-overalls, t-shirts, and tennies.
"But why painfully? Isn't this what I've been wanting? To become a woman? To finally prove to myself and others that I am responsible enough to manage on my own? But I suppose it's typical to feel such second thoughts.
"Looking out the train window, into the vast darkness of the night, passing by so quickly, I feel as though this is a time channel through which I am passing. It's all going by so quickly and at the end, I will surely encounter the freedom and independence one begins to crave during that one-time, so important senior year.
"As I see a light in the distance, I can't help but look to it with excitement and wonderment as it represents my beacon for the future; a future I hope will contain success, wisdom, and unceasing happiness. My, such big, glorious thoughts are these coming from a recent high school graduate. Or I guess I could say, from a pending college freshman. Two totally different titles to be pinned to one person. The former can be viewed with earned respect and congratulations. Oh, how proud I was graduation night. (more groans) I recall labeling it "the biggest moment of my life." As I marched down the aisle, leading the rest of my graduating class to the spine-tingling thrill of Pomp and Circumstance bellowing from the organ (oh, brother!), tears filled my eyes. Yes, tears. Tears of expectation, tears of achievement, tears of success, tears of possible sadness? No, I was so happy that night. With diploma in hand and cords draped from my shoulders, I had the world by the tail.
"But, I guess now the joke is on me. That wasn't really the end of the road. No, it was a marvelous beginning. Not such an original thought to the world, maybe, but certainly a concept that must be learned and accepted by every individual at some point in their life.
"So, now I look at the world through the eyes of a college freshman. What an absolutely terrifying, exhilarating thought! Here I am, jetting through the night on a superliner passenger train to an uncertain existence (can't believe I am typing this for the world to see). The other passengers seated around me are absorbed in their own thoughts, not paying any particular attention to me, seeming not to care that every minute is taking me further from my home and the people I love, only to deposit me on destiny's doorstep. But even I realize that's unfair. I certainly hope I don't look green from homesickness, and that my anticipation of new college life isn't clearly displayed on my sleeve.
(I apologize for the length of this)
"Moments ago as I wandered through the train to secure a latenight snack from the dining car, I found it particularly interesting to liken it to a person's life. The only time one can stand with completely secure footing, the train isn't in motion. But what progress comes from staying in one place? Then, as the train moves forward at its steady, constant pace, progress can be made. Granted, it becomes difficult to keep one's footing at times, but life is never always smooth sailing either if you expect to gain any rewards. (brilliant!)
"But I enjoy likening my position in life to the somewhat unsettling experience of moving from one car to the next. It becomes increasingly difficult to stay on your feet. Constant guard is necessary to watch your step and secure a firm hand hold to keep you up and moving forward. Care must also be taken to avoid getting the door closed on you, either the door shutting out the past or the one beckoning the future."
Present day again:
Wasn't I profound? ;-) I hope you enjoyed the chuckle at my expense. I have recently become reconnected with several of my friends from the past, many of which were present at my high school graduation. Hopefully they enjoyed a little walk down memory lane with me. One of them, Sara Jo Hansen, has been writing a blog containing some of her escapades from high school. They have been very entertaining as they have swept us all back to the halls of Grace High. I love hearing about many things that I was vaguely aware of, and many things I had no idea were happening!
In looking back perhaps the thing I have learned with the most impact is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I hope my children, who are embarking on exciting new futures for themselves, will be able to relate to good old mom a little bit better and realize that I haven't always been this rock of wisdom, maturity, and confidence that they see before them today...
Photo credit: my friend, Jon Lowe