Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Only the Young

I spent about an hour on the phone the other day with friend and former college roommate, T; we both graduated from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. (Yes, that Waco.) T was the first person I met at Baylor—within 10 minutes of arriving at Russell Dormitory. Baylor’s freshman orientation divides the entire freshman class, all 2900 or so, into small groups of about 12 – 15 with two upper class leaders. T, a junior, was one of my leaders. We quickly discovered we were in the same French class and were pretty much fast friends from then on.

I guess I’ve known her now for 14 years. Her birthday is this week; she turns 35. I’m fast approaching 33 and feeling terribly old; my annual-birthday angst is rearing its ugly head and again.

We’ve been playing phone tag for about 2 months now. Sad, isn’t it? She has a not-quite-three-year-old and a not-quite-one-year-old—both boys. She feels fortunate to be a stay-at-home Mom but as we spoke I could hear the exhaustion and frustration in her voice. I could hear the whining, crying, squealing, and screaming in the background. I could hear “Mommy, Mommy, Momma, Mommy” over and over and over.

Try as I might I could not picture this life of hers. She was always so headstrong, ambitious, and ready to take on the world. We spent hours talking about business we wanted to start together, dreams of spending summers in Paris, and how we were ready to conquer the world. We planned how grand our life would be when we were well and truly grown-up. Career girls we would be. Somehow I can’t picture her at home surrounded by toys, stuffed animals, Barney videos, and sippy cups. It’s simply too incongruous.

I really can’t think of much that makes being “all grown up” very special. Sure, I can set my own bedtime, imbibe on any number and or quantity alcoholic beverages if I so choose, or have a candy bar and a coke for breakfast if I want. However, being an adult also means you know the consequences of sleeping too little, drinking too much, and poor nutrition. Sure, we all break the rules on occasion but for me at least, the negative effect of those actions tends to outweigh the “fun” of being able to do whatever I want whenever I want to do it. I want to call in sick from work, stay in bed and watch movies all day but I get out of bed anyway and get in the shower. I want to take a road-trip just for the hell of it but I think about gasoline at $1.85 a gallon and money for a hotel and choose to pay the electric bill instead. Sometimes, being well and truly grown up just sucks. I guess we all change; I just wonder why we have to.

My friendship with T has had its ups and downs and we’ve been in and out of touch throughout recent years but I guess I’ve always known that if I really needed her she would be there for me. It was so nice to hear her voice. I often think back to those carefree college days when I want to go back to a time when my whole life was in front of me and the possibilities were endless.

If you’ve never been to central Texas in August, let me tell you it’s only a degree or two cooler than hell and on those days when the air conditioner just couldn’t put out enough cold air we would get in my car, a white, 1990, Ford Probe and drive to Sonic where would each order Cherry Limeaides. We’d sit and talk about our plans for a fabulous life and then we would put on Journey’s Greatest Hits and drive down the never-ending street that was Valley Mills, toward the lake, with the windows down, radio blaring, blonde hair blowing, singing about small-town girls, or open arms, never dreaming we were “only the young.”

Another night in any town
You can hear the thunder of their cry
Ahead of their time
They wonder why

In the shadows of a golden age
A generation waits for dawn
Brave carry on
Bold and the strong

Only the young can say
They're free to fly away
Sharing the same desires
Burnin' like wildfire

They're seein' through the promises
And all the lies they dare to tell
Is it heaven or hell
They know very well

nly the young can say
Only the young can say
Only the young can say
Only the young can say



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