I felt certain much of my teen and pre-teen angst would have been settled if life would just tell me already: Would I get to marry him? Or more often, the questions were immediate, “Would I pass the test?” “Would I get the speech out without fainting?” “Would I fail completely in the fitness test in gym?”
Then, once I got the guy, I didn’t want to know the future at all. I didn’t want anyone to tell me what might happen next. I didn’t want to know if there was trouble ahead. I didn’t even want to know if there was fortune. It was nicer to just live, making plans and having hope without any certainty to mar the process.
With children, I can’t help thinking of the future. I took this picture of Jake helping me paint the hallway and already it looks like an ancient memory, back when you were little and I was young. When we’d ripped up the carpet but hadn’t installed something new. When you were with me, almost every minute, because you were still too little to constantly be leaving. Every happy moment with my children feels immediately as nostalgic as it is present. Kind of like Christmas. I always feel a little sad at Christmas as if even as it happens, it’s already gone.
My children walk into school each morning, and I ache. Their entire educational career flashes through my mind, and before I’ve left the drop-off lane I’m hugging them in their caps and gowns – they’re taller than me now – and I’m desperately trying not to cry, not to be one of those mothers, not to embarrass them because I’m afraid that will take away from how very proud I am. When I watch 5th and 6th grade football on Saturdays, it’s actually Friday night six years from now. He is a junior in high school and his brother a senior, and they’re almost fully men, and it’s the most thrilling, wonderful, exhilarating pain. Thankfully – and I don’t know what I would do without this – when I pick them up at 3, time with them stretches slow and lazy ahead of me. It doesn’t seem to be racing so forcefully toward separation after all.
In the end – apart from the desperate want-to of my younger years and the desperate avoidance of later and the nostalgic ache of now, I live in a sort of balance about the future. I don’t want to know it exactly. But I like to imagine it. I think about how short it might be, and then the stress inside today doesn’t matter so much. I think about how long it might be, and then the stress inside today seems fleeting.
Most of the time, it’s just nice to know Tomorrowland is there.