The other day it hit me that I’m 37. I have been married nearly 13 years. I live in a house full of little boys. We are up to our eye balls in commitments and obligations – people expect things from me and Jesse. Apparently we are adults. And I have been fully aware of this transition as it happened. It isn’t as if I wasn’t absolutely present for all of the decisions that led me to this place. But dear Lord, the weight of it took my breath away.
I was listening to a Pandora station populated with Indigo Girls, Ani DiFranco and Tracy Chapman songs. Every song was my favorite. Each one seemed to remind me of a feeling that I hadn’t had for years. Wistfully singing the lyrics and indulging myself in faraway memories of the days in my life that were nearly carefree and well, pointless, drew the attention of my kids and we danced around the kitchen. The boys seized on the moment and laughed and danced and became their most wild selves. They love it when Jesse and I cut up with them and go off parenting script to show them our fun sides. Maybe we don’t show the boys that side of ourselves enough but in our defense ‘living in the moment’ becomes exhausting!
The feeling didn’t leave me even after the moment had ended. Those songs reminded me of being young and spending my summers in the wilderness with other girls who were too young to know how fortunate we were at the time.
When I was 12 years old my parents put me on a school bus headed to Camp Menogyn outside of Grand Marais, Minnesota about 3 miles from the Canada US border. I climbed up the stairs of the school bus, walked down the long aisle and sat down next to my future best friend Rosanna. We didn’t know each other yet, but 7 hours on the bus took care of that minor issue. And lucky for us we were signed up for the exact same 10 day camping trip in the BWCAW. That trip led to another summer of Menogyn and then we were invited on the 30-day invitational trip. My soccer schedule dictated that I would be on the first of the two invitationals called Nor’westers so we didn’t go ‘on trail’ together until the following summer on our 45-day invitational trip, Femmes Du Nord. In the summer of 1993 at the age of 16 I left my family for a 45-day canoe trip along the Attawapiskat River in far Northern Ontario. It was quite honestly the trip of my life.
In college I worked at a grocery store and then a whole foods co-op nearly part time while I finished my degree so that I could afford to work at Menogyn in the summers. Just after I graduated I led the same 45-day Femmes Du Nord trip back to northern Ontario, but this time on the Winisk River. It seems incredible to me now, but when I was just 21 I led five teenaged girls on their very own trip of a lifetime.
In every way these experiences shaped me and prepared me for the life I live now. I pretty much give the same advice to my kids that I gave to my campers: “If something hurts: drink some water or go sit on the toilet” and “It isn’t the last meal you’ll ever eat; it’s just this meal and your body needs the energy so… EAT IT”.
I have so many great friendships from being a camper and also from being on staff. And at least a novel’s worth of stories! Believe me, I can now endure anything after some of the challenges that we conquered out there. My inner mantra during all three huge 10 pound baby, no medical intervention births was “if I can paddle and portage my way across Ontario then I can do this!”.
My fear is that those days are over and I won’t have another great big adventure in my future. My hope is that I’m wrong and before I’m too crippled from these years of running & racing that I’ll be out in the wilderness laughing and singing Indigo Girls songs with amazing women again.
Have you had your life changing moment yet? What makes you feel like time goes by too fast?