I'm heading to my high school today to meet up with a few of my classmates for our 20 year reunion. When I was young, I used to loathe it when people exclaimed, "Where did the time go?" and "I can't believe twenty years have gone by!" but this is truly a case of youth being wasted on the young, because people say those things for one reason only: they are true. Perspective is everything, and at seventeen or eighteen years of age, you feel you have the world by a string, and that time is stretching out endlessly in front of you.
And then one day you wake up and go to your 20 year reunion, and you realize that almost half of your life is behind you, and you make those banal exclamations, remembering all the while how much you hated them when you were young. There is a certain satisfaction in looking back and seeing how far you've come, because if I was offered the choice to go back to my high school self, in all its vacuous glory, I would probably say no.
Or would I? It's always tempting to want to go back and fix the mistakes you made, but I would want to go back with the wisdom I have at 37 years of age, and I know that's not possible. I was an idiot, in the nicest sense of the word, at seventeen, but I was blissfully unaware of this fact, and felt I was one of the brightest people on the planet. Youth brings with it a bravado and a confidence which isn't based on any form of reality, but it doesn't really matter because you are so young and vibrant and can fake your way through anything.
I love the wisdom and maturity that I've attained simply by living another twenty years, and I wouldn't trade my husband and kids for anything on earth, but there is something ridiculously appealing about going back to my seventeen year old self, even for a few hours this afternoon. I wish more of our graduating class was able to attend, as I'm looking forward to catching up with people I haven't seen since I was so young, and so hopeful about everything the future was going to bring to me.
We capture some of that hope and enthusiasm again by parenting our kids through the same stages. We see their mistakes, and their frailties, and hopefully tap into that fierce energy, and remember what we were like at that age, when anything and everything seemed both possible and probable. We become cynical and jaded along the way, and I would like to connect with that hopeful seventeen year old version of myself today when I walk the halls of my old school and stroll down memory lane with my classmates. That time is long gone, but it's become a part of the fabric of who I am, so in a very real way it remains alive.