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What I Learned This Week – 6/8/14

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This week I learned that I wouldn’t do my life differently.

Look at this baby.

Baby pic of A.L.D.

Baby pic of A.L.D.

I remember when this baby was born.

Last weekend, she graduated from high school.

This is the daughter of one of my close friends growing up. She had her when she was just 2 years out of high school herself. Two more children soon followed.

The last time I saw my friend and her husband at the grocery store, they actually looked at my son and laughed. They laughed because they are almost done raising their children, and I am just starting.

But you know what? I wouldn’t trade with them for anything.

I went and visited them shortly after their daughter was born. I was just a kid in college. I had never had a real job. I didn’t have my own car. I didn’t have any bills. I didn’t live on my own, and wouldn’t be ready to for another three years.

Their little bundle of joy scared the shit out of me!

In the years they were raising kids, I was going to concerts and spending money on CDs and hoodies, not on diapers and backpacks. I only had to be responsible for myself and a hamster.

You know the good thing about a hamster? If you decide to crash at your green-haired friend’s house for the night, YOU CAN! The hamster has enough food and water for 24 hours. It is a rodent, for God sake. They not only survived the plague, they spread it to everyone else.

My husband and I spent many Sunday nights going out to Walmart too late and spending money we couldn’t spare on DVDs and toys. And I wouldn’t trade those lazy nights for anything.

The way I see it, we got to enjoy our youth when we were young. My friends are looking forward to having all their kids out of their house soon. But they will still be in their 40’s by then. And as I approach that milestone myself, I am sure I won’t have as much energy then as I did in my 20s. I used to live my whole life on 6 hours of sleep per night up until I had my son. I used to go out to concerts surrounded by kids 10 years younger than me and jump up and down with them at a Good Charlotte concert. I used to be squeezed in a mosh pit. I stood up for 5 hours in the summer sun with no food or water in 2008 to listen to future President of the United States Barack Obama speak.

I was strong! I was hardy!

I can still do a concert better than many people my own age. But not with the enthusiasm and longevity and fearlessness I once had.

I waited until I was 34 to have my son. And even then, I could barely figure out when to give him formula and when to change a diaper. (I wasted lot of diapers and formula this way.) Now, at my increased age, I barely have enough patience for him some days. I can’t imagine if I had been younger and felt like he was making me miss out on stuff.

So as far as having a child, I definitely do not regret having mine later.

I am tempted to say that I do regret not working on getting a novel published sooner. But, well, I guess I had to wait for the right idea to come along and kick me in the ass.

A Tribute To Someone I Hardly Knew

When I think of Schindler’s List, I always think of a girl I went to school with named Alicia Foote.

More on that in a minute.

I met Alicia Foote in Writer’s Workshop in high school. [Then I might have thought of her as just Alicia, but now I always hear her full name in my head.] Writer’s Workshop was a wonderful class that anyone could take, from freshmen to seniors. And it was taught by one of my favorite teachers, who I sometimes believed to resemble a Panda. I thought I had him wrapped around my finger. I am sure he was totally on to me.

The first ten minutes or so of class, we were to do a free-write (wait, isn’t that what THIS VERY BLOG is? I give myself an “A”:P). The rest of the class, you could write stories, poems, etc. My asbestos friend and I ate it up. My other friend and I would eat blue raspberry blow-pops in class and turn our tongues blue.

Being the Co-Editor of the school newspaper, I spent a lot of time working on the newspaper during class. But I also found time to flirt (badly) with freshmen boys. And I became friends with a couple of freshmen girls who were in the class. One of whom was Alicia Foote. She was short with long blond hair and the biggest smile. From how I knew her, she was one of the few truly nice people I have ever known. The phrase “heart of gold” comes to mind. In any century, it is hard to find a high school student you could say that about.

So, through the year, I would talk to her in class, she wrote a little for the newspaper, and I believe I even sat with her at lunch sometimes. So, by the end of the year, when our school took five school buses of students to go see Schindler’s List in Toledo, she was sort of my friend. The seniors all claimed one bus. On the way home, after the movie and lunch, extra kids piled on to the senior bus. After all, seniors are so cool. The bus was totally overfilled. I ended up riding home on Alicia Foote’s lap. Never mind that I was three years older than her and probably 20lbs heavier, at least. She should have been on my lap, but somehow it didn’t work out that way. I still think of her like that on the bus that day.

I think the last time I saw her was when she hugged me at my graduation and my mom snapped a picture.

Alicia & I together on the occassion of my high school graduation.

Alicia & I together on the occassion of my high school graduation.

I believe she graduated in 1997. She is totally the type of person I would look up on Facebook to be friends with today. But I can’t. She died in a car accident a year or two after her graduation. She had a baby, who survived because of it’s car seat. And who will never know what a great person it’s mom was.

And yes, I cried writing this. Writing about a girl I barely knew. Who has been dead for years and probably forgotten about by half her own classmates. But I think I cry more for the loss of the kind of person I envisioned she could have grown up to be. A good, kind person. The world needs more people like that.

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