Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Life Lived: The Guidebook

I love the stars over New Mexico.
Can't wait to show them to Zuzu and Miss Honey pi.

Admission. I am by nature just a little fatalistic. It is an unfortunate attribute that accompanied me to this lovely thing called mortality. When I was just five, I stopped spending the night at my grandparents house as I was positive my parents would be killed in accident while I was gone. I didn't think my presence would keep the accident from occurring...I just wanted to be able to say goodbye when it did. By ten, I had gotten in the habit of staying up as late as I could. Maybe if I never slept I would be able to ward off death, that personage that was so ready to take me away at my ripe old age of a decade. I actually remember praying that to God that if he would just let me reach sixteen and get my first kiss, then I would go gently into that good night. (Ten year old me thought sixteen year old me would be hotter...I didn't get that first kiss till I was almost nineteen). This certainty of an imminent end of all goodness continued ad nauseam through high school. Yeah. I am sure raising THAT was just peachy. Thanks for sticking it out, Mom and Dad.

I have done what I can to rid myself of this irrationality. For the most part, I have been successful. The world is now more light than shadow. I will admit to the occasional relapse. You should have seen Riley's face the first time I woke him up and said, "I really don't want to die." I always feel bad for men when they realize that they married a whole mess of crazy. Sorry, Baby.
Having a child has helped. I want her to see the world as it can be. Should be. There is no room in the existence I want for the fear that kept ten year old me up at night. Life is so full. Brimming with tastes and sights and experiences that I suspect are unique to our mortality. Try as I might, I am not sure that I can picture butter drenched scallops in heaven. So. A project that appeals to both my acquired optimism and my natural fatalism.

I love guidebooks. Little hand held excursions into the distance. An afternoon in Borders surrounded by books touching on Asia, Europe and the Middle East is happiness captured. I may never eat dim sum in Hong Kong or explore the catacombs in Paris. Little me in my little purple house will still be happy. I will also have lived my life, however long it may be. A collection of experiences, sights and tastes (probably, too many tastes...FOOD!) that are just as sweet and important as anything found across any sea.

The project. Over the next year I am going to write, A Life Lived: The Guidebook, in installments on this blog. It will be full of things I want my children to feel, taste, touch and hear. Bits and pieces of life that I could not bear for them to live without. In my optimism, it is a resource we will walk through together. In my fatalism, it is something to give them when I have left them to walk alone. Either way, I know it is going to be fun.

3 comments:

  1. Yeah, I remember saying the same prayer when I was young. I didn't get that kiss at sixteen either. I was almost eighteen and still quite homely. :) My problem now is that I am scared all the time because I want my children to survive a long time. I've never been as fearful of dying as I am now. I'm positive that someday, Brian's lab will be blown to bits as his reactions explode, but in the end he'll emerge covered in blackness just because I can't stand the thought of being without him. It makes me crazy. Ugh.

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  2. gorgeous meg, i love this idea! can't wait to read your guidebook...and maybe make my own someday when the little ones start arriving! xo!

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  3. I did the same thing as a kid. Mostly junior high, I didn't want my mom to go anywhere by herself cause I was worried she would never come back.

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