Monday, March 19, 2012

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

The blog has (obviously) fallen by the wayside...I think with writing so much corporate mumbo-jumbo daily, the passion to write personally wanes, even though I enjoy it immensely. As one of my friends would say, "le sigh."

I'm back from a girls' weekend at the beach- just what I needed. You know it's bad when you don't mind sitting in bumper-to-bumper gridlock on the outer loop, because it affords you some peace and quiet...or reminds you of an old commute into the city. Either way, sick, right? This from the woman who never imagined a life in the 'burbs, driving a swagger wagon (ok, Honda Pilot because there was no way in hell that I was buying a minivan), and trying not to go insane on the soccer sidelines. Don't misunderstand, I love being a mom- love it, and at the same time, it raises some tough questions...what happens to identity when the title of mom is hitched to it? How do you successfully balance motherhood, career, and that which you wish to passionately pursue? There, sitting in traffic, I realized I don't even get to use the bathroom by myself ("Mom, are you in there?")...what identity is/was left after mom, employee, volunteer, household manager, cook, and so on? Well, if you've got to ask that question, the answer is not much. I started to wonder "where did I go?" Something's got to give.

Traffic passed and the outer loop gave way to a country road, fallow cotton fields, turf farms, vineyards, empty farm stands and finally a bridge onto the island. As I drove along, I felt the stress melt far, far away. To say I was thrilled to arrive on Thursday evening would be an understatement; it's not due to any one thing- but the sum of all of the little things..."the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Four days to be Jen, just Jen...nothing more and nothing less. How refreshing. Ok, rare, but refreshing all the same...and isn't the rarity of that just pathetic?

Time to linger over a glass of wine and great conversation...real, authentic conversation. Time to relax (what's that?), time to pamper myself (a massage therapist came out to the beach house for the day), time to read, time to think, time to just be. As I was sitting on the deserted beach Friday afternoon, listening to the waves crashing, the sun shining down on me, I realized that I could not remember the last time I was alone...just one as far as I could see. How does one get to that point, where time to sit, alone, and breath the fresh salty air, feel your hair being whipped by the balmy breeze, and enjoying the warmth of sunshine on your face with uninterrupted thoughts is a rare occurrence?

These weekends happen twice a year, but obviously, I must make way for me more than two long weekends a year. No wonder why it feels like I could go bat shit crazy some days. When the internal dialogue sounds something like- "Hi Jen, remember yourself? You know, your passions, ideas, independence, sense of adventure, goals and laughter? No???"- it's time to take action.

Of course, the weekend was fantastic. And just like Vegas, what happens at girls' weekend stays at girls' weekend...or is it like Fight Club and the first rule? And really, I hate the title "girls'" weekend (we're far from being a bunch of 10 year olds) but "ladies'" weekend sounds too prim and proper and "womens'" weekend too formal. Whatever you want to call it, it was a little slice of heaven for a few days with a fantastic group of smart, authentic, funny, accomplished women.

One conversation was so good to have, but at the same time, sticks with me, heavily. A group of us from my grad school program were recently surveyed on the value of our experiences, preparedness, academic rigor, etc., and one of my friends on the weekend adventure was also a grad school classmate of mine. We compared notes on the survey, our experiences, and how far we've developed since out grad school days and our first placements outside of grad school. You know, moving from an arrogant, headstrong, know-it-all 23 year old and developing into a better version of self. While we enjoyed a laugh over "if we knew then what we know now," I also mourn the missed opportunities- things I would have done differently, personal relationships I would have cultivated more, how I would have opened my eyes and heart wider, my ears more compassionately, and my mouth less. What does one do with that? Such a simple conversation that can stir up both good memories and regrets...not sure how to reconcile that, but it's not something I can simply let go. We'll see...I'm a processor, so I need to time to mull on it and work through it. Again, "le sigh."

There you have it- how I get by with a little help with my friends. Oh- the photo...well, I usually don't care for any photos of myself, but since this was one from the weekend (and super grainy from the iPhone), it seemed appropriate.

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