Friday, April 11, 2008

Anticipation

Remembering. Waiting. Anticipating. None of these allow a person to be fully present for the moment in which they are living. But like any habit or behavior pattern, it is damned hard to break.

I've never been one to spend much time tromping down memory lane. I didn't have one of those childhoods that one wants to run back to. I spent that time just waiting. Waiting for it to be over. Waiting to be an adult. Waiting to be the one in control. That changed somewhat when I had my son. Over the last eleven and a half years, when I see either an expectant mother or an infant, and I remember the feeling of expecting my son, and then pride and joy borne of bringing forth this miraculous new life. I remember every expression on his tiny face, every change in breath, every stage and accomplishment. I mentally send new mothers the message not to wish time away. Trace Adkins just released a single that expresses it well:

You're gonna' miss this
You're gonna' want this back
You're gonna' wish these days
Hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna' miss this

It is a good reminder to live in the moment. To drink it all in, and be fully present. (And yes, I do like sappy songs.)

I admit I am not good at it. I am a waiter. An anticipater. My brain figures that if I wait long enough, what I want will happen. Or things will change. I hardly ever give up the wait, as I am convinced that if I walk away, I will have missed it. Or given up. And Lord knows I can't give up. When I first met my husband, he would go to the comic book store or where ever, and I would wait for him. And wait. And wait, long past what would be considered reasonable (or good manners, for that matter). I thought that if I didn't wait, he would walk away from me. I also thought that the moment I abandoned the wait would be the moment he showed up. So what’s 5 more minutes? 10? Maybe I also thought that he would see some virtue in me for waiting, not matter how long. Yes, I was guilty of a little bit of martyrdom, saving the reproach for some time later. What I didn't see at the time was how it devalued me. I didn’t see the part of me that I was giving up.

That is not to imply waiting it is an entirely passive thing. Seems to me there are at least two kinds of waiting. There is the waiting that is just biding one's time. I did that through my adolescence. I knew there would be a day when my sentence would be served. Nothing to be done for it but wait it out. In this form of waiting, you know the endpoint. Then there is the kind of waiting that is borne of hoping something will happen. Waiting/hoping for parental approval. Waiting/hoping that certain someone will notice you. Or miss you enough to reach out. Or remember that you are waiting for him to finish up in the comic book store. With this, you don't have any knowledge or control of the end point. This is an active kind of waiting. One can spend a lifetime in this wait. I very nearly have.

In some ways this waiting thing I do distracts me from what is happening in the now nearly to the point of not really being able to remember what happened in that moment. There is no recall because I wasn't paying enough attention. You can tell me I did or said something, and I have no memory of it at all because, at that time, I was waiting, or maybe hoping for something else. There are things for which I have waited that did happen. Those are the things I remember most vividly. When I was accepted into the college of my choice, graduated high school, left home, had my son. The first time I truly tasted desire, and had it matched. Ah, but that doesn’t count. It left me wanting and waiting for more, and that is forbidden.

There are things for which I have learned not to wait, and frankly it took a lot to get there. I used to want my husband to do things with me, and wait for him to do so. If he didn’t want to, he didn’t. Period. I remember warning him that there would come a day when I wouldn’t wait for him, or ask him along. I remember seeing that as a form of disengagement that I found frightening. Now, I do things on my own, that I wouldn’t have 15 or 20 years ago. I go to the gym or track or to see friends. Things I wanted to do with Brian years ago, but in which he had no interest, and no desire to feign it no matter how many times I went to the comic book store and waited. I still see this is a form of disengagement that scares me. I see a part of me looking for an active partner; someone with whom to share interest and excitement and ideas.

There is a certain amount of chick and egg syndrome inherent in this. Does the waiting fuel the dissatisfaction, or does the dissatisfaction fuel the waiting. That is the rub. Once I identify the origin of the cycle, maybe I can break it. But I imagine some fairly uncomfortable truths would have to rise to the surface, faced and vanquished one way or the other. What’s ironic is that I never make people wait for me, in terms of time, anyway. I’m never late. It, I have come to learn, is both because I a: respect the other person’s time, and b: somehow never feel I am worthy of the wait. But, I have made Brian wait for me to let down my defenses. While I don't spend much time remembering my past, I am bound by it. He waits. For me to let him in. And I am sure it is just as cold where he waits as where I have waited. Ah, the impasse. Maybe we are just waiting each other out. Maybe that is the uncomfortable, unspoken truth.

r.

10 comments:

SOUL: said...

wow. speechless i think. you're a damn good writer.

i have heard the song you mentioned--- it's very true-- and i have and do miss alot. and wait. and forget.

hugz to yo--
hope you have a good weekend R

Kate said...

I spend a lot of time pondering this subject because, like you, I'm always looking ahead. I tend to think of it as "planning", rather than "waiting", but some of the problems it can cause are the same. I remember this first emerging as an issue in college. I had some goals I really wanted to fulfill, and they were difficult. I was focused on them to the point that my best friend asked, "When are you going to actually just enjoy the moment you ARE IN!?" I try to - I really DO...but I think I'm a bit blinkered. And, in a similar vein to what you were saying, I wonder, "Do I always look ahead because I'm a malcontent? Or am I discontented because I'm always looking ahead?"

I saw you were over at my "place" and saw my posting about country radio, so you know - I've had to listen to "You're Gonna Miss This" A LOT lately... It definitely hits home with me. Which pisses me off. :)

Maria said...

I loved this post, Rebecca. Probably because it just...fit.

I admit to never waiting much for Bing. She waits for me all the time, though. I can see it in her eyes. She waits for me to calm down and get to my senses, she waits for me to see logic, she waits for me to get over my emotional rant. I feel badly about that. Making her wait.

And, wow...a few days ago, I was brushing Liv's hair while we waited for her Father to come pick her up. She was perched in my lap and suddenly, I just missed her babyhood so much that I could not speak. So, I kissed her shoulder instead. She leaned back against me and I kept telling myself to enjoy this because when she was thirteen, this was not going to be part of our day anymore.

simonsays said...

Ver powerful post, rebecca. Very powerful.

And it's one I am going to think about.

I hope your weekend is going perfectly. :)

Bridget said...

Great post. I am so guilty of this. I am always looking forward to that next stage of life for my kids that I don't enjoy enough where I am right now. Sometimes I wish I could have one day more with each of my kids as babies. I think it would be so fun to see them again so little knowing now their personalities.

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Anonymous said...

Wow,so niceeee!! Thanks for sharing!