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.