Today I met with an old english teacher I had, back when I had stars in my eyes and felt the world would unroll the red carpet for my artistic self. I haven't seen her since I was probably nineteen. It was a crash course meeting. Starbucks on my lunch break, an exchange of art, sold on the Facebooks, discarded from my racks on my move east. This teacher, one who use to see my journals as a piece of art--"You should publish these.." and I'd cling to them, and shuffle along among the teenagers, plotting out my existence in the world.
"Catch me up to speed," she asks, big smile on her face, coffee resting on the table.
"I haven't liked my twenties," I tell her. "Started with 14 library cards, graduate school, dropping out, then a long stint of recovery from depression."
I explain in a slightly elongated version.
We talk about the pesky nature of life, depression, of being creative, clever, and how sometimes wouldn't it just be easier if we fit into the mold?
And as the evening wears on and I read of my friend's best friend dog having passed away three months ago I think of this conversation and of my usual casual dismissal of my twenties.
And I think of this yellow labrador curled at my legs, half chewed antler at his nose, shredded box around us mailed from my best friend in Oregon. I had a rough first half, but I got a dog out of the mix. A dog that has introduced me to my "old" hippie artist friend who teaches me to loosen up my edges, and her cranky Vietnam veteran husband who tells me crazy stories and makes me laugh at his absurd dislike for humans. Reminding me to not count myself out yet, I'm still a kid you know. And then there's my friend who listens for hours while I unfold my life mysteries, reminding me we will figure it out sometime, answering my 9-1-1 vet calls, and sharing her backyard so that a tall lengthy dog can dodge my yellow streak, as they race around colorful umbrellas and an above ground pool. There's the walks in the evening with my ten-year-old friend who reminds me things can be silly, my dog can be strong, and maybe we should just go make mini-pizza's instead? Saturday mornings around a lake with my dear friend from so many chapters of my path. And the old guy down the street who tells me never to get married, and hey, how are you doing these days?
Sure there was a first run at the love thing, an incomplete degree, a slew of job rejections, a year of straightening myself back to good again, and two years of recovering from that, but really, there's two new friends I never wanted, an old friend who decided to forgive my younger self, a slew of pals who still hang out with me on this second Ohio round, a first apartment, visits to the first apartment from my dad, mom, sisters and Aunt and I have this side kick who I see each time I walk in the door. A sidekick who gets to cart along with me on my next great adventure, and remind me, hey, you have to lighten up some, and what about if we just go for a walk?