Monday, July 14, 2008

A Different Kind of Funny

I was reading the latest Janet Evanovich book in bed last night when I laughed out loud at a passage. That in itself was not unusual. It's her fourteenth Stephanie Plum by-the-numbers book, and each one leading up to it has elicited in me everything from giggles to guffaws. But there was something about the evening--the July heat, the humidity, the fact that both the children were quiet and sleeping--that reminded me of the first time I'd ever read a Stephanie Plum story. It was five or six years ago. I'd laughed so loud I woke up my parents in their nearby room. My father growled a string of unintelligible obscenities. I just rolled my eyes and went back to the hilarity. I was a college graduate living back at home while searching for a job. I was so selfishly happy.

My memory is fixated on the lightweightness of it all. The thin blanket in a tent over my legs as I perched the book on my knees. The crickets outside a window where tall trees were shadowed a degree darker than the night. The turned-away clock that meant nothing.

Not long after that--a year, maybe two--I was engaged to be married. Our first child came a year after the wedding. Our second arrived two years and nine months after that.

Four years. Just four fast years. Last night I found similarities between my old life and my new one in the evening, the bed, the out-loud laughing and the summer heat; but more than that, I felt differences. Oh-my-freaking-God. I am married. I am a mother. I am beholden to my husband and my babies and a mortgage company.

I am happy. There's no doubt about that. My days have more dimensions than they ever have before. Each moment is heavy with consequence. But selfishly happy I am not. I can't imagine I ever will be again.

The days of lightness are stuck in my head but I can't feel them. There's no mellow flow of air raising goosebumps on my arm. Outside, the grass clippings settle beneath the moon but do not release the cooled-earth scent I used to inhale.

But that's okay. Like the Bible and the Byrds say, there's a season for all of it. And as long as Ms. Evanovich keeps churning out the funny, I'll continue laughing right along.


toyfoto said...

Eloquent doesn't begin to describe this post.

I suppose it's what I was hunting and pecking around my keyboard for this week but never really found as perfectly as you did: "selfishly happy" being no more.

Anonymous said...

I was feeling this the other night while I was camping. The last time I went camping was right after I graduated from college, and I jumped in the river, camped all night, and never thought twice. This time around I listened to every noise, I was so much more aware because I had to be. Carefree does not seem to exist anymore, it is always about what I have to do next. It is really makes me grumpy. Then the baby boy comes up and says, "Mom, God made you special because you have kids," and I feel less grumpy.

Heather said...

It's amazing how quickly life changes.

iheartchocolate said...

What's funny is, thinking back to my selfish and free days, there was a hole in my heart. I longed for the things to come, the husband who was mine and loved me, the that I have those things I feel more than satisfied, but wouldn't mind having a selfishly indulgent day or two a week! HA, no maybe a month.

Brenda said...

What a wonderful, well-written post! It brings back memories, too! I don't have children but, like you, I'm beholding to the mortgage company! I think each of us, as we enter into adulthood, leaves behind those selfishly happy times. Still, it's nice to know that, as you did, we still get those refreshing glances back!

Paula said...

Beautifully written!

Brenda said...

As a point of courtesy, I just wanted you to know that I've given this great post a mention (and some link love) at my site. I think my readers will enjoy your story as much as I have!