I remember sitting at the manual typewriter every summer morning after 7am swim practice. I wrote one sentence at a time before moving the carriage and typing the next line. I blogged even back then. I wish I could find those papers, though they would probably make me cringe.
I wish I could remember what motivated me to get up early those summer mornings and head to the pool because I never finished a race, looked up, and saw someone else still swimming. It’s the only time in my life where moving my body consistently felt natural. I sat down at the typewriter by 8:30 in the morning still a bit damp and refreshingly cool in the Sacramento heat. Move my body. Check. Get to work. Check.
When you’re 12, you don’t spend any time thinking you’ll have to figure out later how to capture that feeling of being in the zone again.
While I wrote, I waited for my friend from down the street to call. The daughter of a single mom, Jo had chores after swim team to do. But she also had a pool in her backyard and I doubt I even changed out of my bathing suit. A plum tree shaded part of the pool and the two of us ate plums and swam for hours each day. No adult hovered and felt they had to lifeguard. The ease and connection I felt with Jo for our poolside days is another feeling my heart still searches to experience again.
I miss riding my bike without a helmet in my bathing suit with a best girlfriend. I loved getting to spend hours with the other girls in the neighborhood, chasing our crushes, making prank calls to them on phones with the coiling cords to a Billy Joel soundtrack. We ate all the pizza and frozen yogurt we could afford as long as we had some quarters left over for Ms. PacMan. Then we jumped into the pool again. No parent wondered where I was and I was young enough to keep boys mostly only at the end of the phone. 🎶It’s just a fantasy! Woah-oh-oh-oh 🎶Girl drama was still much more fun and getting in trouble just wasn’t on my radar yet.
I am at a place in life where I get to choose again how I can orchestrate my days. Everyone I trust keeps asking me, “What do you WANT?” But I get tripped up when they ask me that because what I want doesn’t feel tangible.
I want the wind in my hair without my heart weighing me down.
I want to eat pizza and ice cream in a bathing suit without trying to squeeze into our culture’s beauty box.
I want to write and believe like a twelve year old that I’m really good at it.
I want to want to swim and not care that I’m really NOT good at it.
And most of all, I want a life of connection with the girls.
When I see something posted online about “the girls” getting together, my heart grips with longing.
I want to travel with intellectuals and visit historical Europe.
I want to go to a fan convention with friends that will wait in line with me while we gush about our favorite stories and actors.
I want online friends where we meet up for the first time at an event for bloggers, podcasters, and creative entrepreneurs, and I fit right in because that’s where I belong and how I make some money.
I want one birthday where I sit on the beach with umbrella drinks while the girls take selfies and will be a cougar with me from behind the safety of our sunglasses.
Why do you think it’s so hard to feel free the older we get? Or if you’re further along than I am on this journey, does it get better? My definition of success is where I can’t seem to settle because I continue to search for how to feel free. I think it has something to do with smiling at that 12 year old with respect. It feels right out of reach. At my fingertips. Elusive. But right there. That twelve year old is also the one sitting here typing. She’s the one who tells me at 50, “You have you’re whole life ahead of you!” She brings me the bike, yells, “Jump on”, and finds the girlfriends right around the corner. I like her.
What do you and your twelve-year old self have in common? How do you miss her?
Does your twelve-year old self want to hang out with my twelve-year old self? My 50 year old plans to hang out with her so we can completely lose it together over this hilarity:
Billy Joel, what were you thinking? Heh-heh-heh?