The other day I saw a photo on Facebook of someone from my high school class I hadn’t seen in decades.
“Wow,” I remarked to my husband, “he’s, like, an adult!” Mind you, I’m 51, and our 25-year-old daughter has already embarked on a career of her own.
Predictably, the grownup in our marriage reminded me that I, too, am technically an adult. I had to laugh … but just a little. (What makes him so smart? He’s not the boss of me!)
You see, as someone who has emerged on the happy side of traumatic brain injury, I feel like I’ve been aging in reverse. Now, before you start imagining Brad Pitt’s character transforming backward through the years from an old man to a fetus in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” know that I’m just having fun with words here, something my brain still allows me to do.
But when it comes to doing math in my head or keeping track of where things are and what day it is, that’s another story.
For my purposes here, aging in reverse means I’ve recaptured the joy of childhood. My fun and games are now yoga, piano, singing, being outdoors–sometimes even writing. To quote another movie, “Elf”: “I like smiling! Smiling’s my favorite!” On the other hand, I also get moody, emotional and stubborn, like a teenager, and I’m forever being warned about taking unnecessary risks by that grownup in our marriage.
He’s right. (He’s always right. That’s what makes me so mad!)
A couple of years ago, I thought I was making major progress when I went walking in Chicago by myself (okay, let’s make that “all by myself”). My dad was in town for a convention, and my husband and I had come in from the suburbs to stay at a hotel, where I was to meet Dad while Ted worked in his office nearby. Ted knew I’d be taking a walk around the city’s Riverwalk area alone, and he also knew of my tendency to get lost.
So there I was, happily meandering, taking in the beautiful sites in what seemed to be a very large rectangle interrupted by occasional steps to the elevated train stop, bridges over the Chicago River, and wide stairs for sitting and river watching. I made this loop maybe half a dozen times, realizing at some point that I had no idea how to get back to the hotel. Okay, be cool. I took a seat, took a breath and surveyed my surroundings. Using logic and a couple of familiar landmarks, I finally figured out which block I hoped was the one that led back. It was. (Whew!)
Of course, Ted had tipped the hotel bellman and had him keep an eye on me, I found out later. (See? Right again!)
Such is life as we approach the decade mark since The Accident, the car crash that changed our lives on Sept. 9, 2008. Ted is the adult in the room, always putting my health, safety and happiness first. I love him like crazy, of course, but I wish he’d learn to love a good booger joke.
This week, my dad and some of the other Helpful Hardware Folks from my hometown will be in Chicago for another convention. I’ll get to spend a day with Dad (he’s 90 now!), and then we’ll meet up with my daughter for dinner.
Let’s just make sure I have some adult supervision.