They say things happen for a reason. That only makes sense when the reason doesn’t hurt you. I can’t comprehend sometimes how someone getting sick will eventually transform into a logical elucidation. What rationale could there be to someone dying young or someone losing a parent and it making sense? How can any one make sense of pain or death? They say, it’ll all come together logically in the long run but when you are dealing with uncertainty, the last thing you want to hear is that “Things Happen For A Reason.” I can’t see any logic in it, or at least at the time when life is turned upside down, I loose that comprehension factor. I will admit though, they, whom ever they are, the powers that be, do have a point. In the end, it all somehow ties up together and while the stubborn gene in me will not utter the words I have written above, it does have some truth to it. I just hate that I have to think of that when I’m feeling hurt. I don’t want to be logical when I’m hurting. I’m not a glutton for punishment and I don’t know of many people who like to live in hurt or even experience it, but sometimes I think that you do have to hurt, you do have to go through that process in order to become the person you are meant to be. I think you do have to hurt so that you can witness to others that there is light at the end of the tunnel and this too shall pass; all cliché’s I swore I’d never use when I grew up and yet here I am, feeling it, thinking it, and saying it. While hurting may not be good for the soul, it sure makes you a strong person and in the end it does make your soul stronger, braver and more capable to handle the rest of what life throws your way. What a contradiction -but in my life, sometimes contradictions were the one things that made the most sense.
When you are young, you think nothing can hurt you. You believe that what you read about in the paper or see in a movie are things created by people with imaginative minds and a gift for the exaggerated thought. Unless it involves you becoming rich and famous, those ugly things you read about can never happen to you. You wake up each morning when you are young without a care in the world. Your biggest problem is having to deal with strict parents or uncaring parents, tough teachers, lousy teachers, or rules that you swear you will never make your children live by when you become a parent. Then the reality check comes in and whether you like it or not, it’s going to get cashed or you’re going to bounce and hard. All the “I’m not going to do that when I get older,” starts popping up into your life and you either find yourself fighting it or giving in to it hoping the adults you defied in your life aren’t around with the “I told you so, “ look on their faces. While things may not make sense to you over night, you find yourself looking at them differently. You begin to question who you are, what you want out of life and if that isn’t deep enough, you wonder what it all means that you are actually thinking about the things your parents warned, you would have to face one day. I’m not a parent yet, but somehow, the events in my life these past few years have bonded me with the mother of my childhood. My upbringing wasn’t as bad as I used to think it was, and I never really thought it was bad except for the times when I couldn’t do what my other friends were doing. Then I’d feel as if my life sucked and my fantasies of being a different kind of mom were born. I actually had a good life growing up. I think of my entire family as a great big Sunday afternoon buffet. Food is big in my family; someone’s sick, soup is on. Some one comes for an unexpected visit, a feast is created. Someone dies, and dishes from all over the place finds its way to our kitchen, our tables, and just when you think it’s safe to go into the refrigerator there’s more food spilling out from the shelves. But regardless of the over abundance of the delectable delights and the reasons for it, each morsel prepared is made with love. And that’s my family.
I woke up one morning, a morning like any other. I had begun to notice the changes in my life and I wasn’t surprised by any of them, I just didn’t think they would happen to me so soon. I kind of liked the fact that some of the things I did question when I was a child were making sense to me now. I didn’t see it as me becoming my parent, I saw it as an “aha” moment. It was pretty scary when things that you fought for a long time to stay away from or things that you questioned because that was the thing to do, suddenly started to make sense. I have found myself laughing from time to time when I finally “got” what my mother or abuelita was talking about. All those stories and advice that I rolled my eyes upwards or would make serious attempts to block out were the very same things that were now helping me step out of my comfort zone. I found myself thinking outside of the box many times because I had the courage, the strength and the belief that I could do it. And that came from the very parents I sometimes fought with. I woke up one day and staring at me in the mirror was a grown up version of the person I use to pretend to be; the happy go lucky carefree girl that had all these dreams and believed they would all come true. I didn’t always have a plan but I had a dream and I always believed the plan would evolve from that.
The morning I stared at myself in the mirror, it felt like that space ride in Disney World, where you start out slow and then hit a patch of stars and then swish! You are moving so fast into space the stars become one big white line. What I saw in the mirror that day was a familiar face filled with uncertainty. I moved closer to look into my eyes believing that I could see the answers to the doubts that had filled my head. I thought if I looked hard enough maybe something would click and it would all make sense. I’m not sure why this next thought popped into my head but I found myself smiling and then snickering remembering an incident with one of my cousins a few years back.
I laughed one day when I saw my cousin Maria playing dress up in an outfit I had made fun of when I saw my aunt wear it years before. I didn’t laugh at what Maria was doing, I laughed because I too wore that very same dress when I was almost her age and thought later on when I was older that it was the most tackiest looking dress ever but at that time, when I was twirling in front of my aunt’s full length mirror, I thought I was Cinderella getting ready for the ball. I looked at Maria and I could feel her joy, her happiness and her fantasy. I knew she didn’t see the tacky pink can can skirt that made the bottom of the dress look more like a barrel than a skirt. I knew she wasn’t looking at the taffeta bows on the hem of the skirt as she did her model pose in front of the mirror. I knew she thought she was the prettiest girl in the world. I knew because I was her once before. I wondered for a moment why that memory came to visit me while I was searching in the mirror for answers but it didn’t matter. I was smiling and at that moment, I would have taken any emotion that made me feel better than I had been feeling for the past few days.The mirror isn’t only for looking pretty and fixing up wardrobe faux pa’s , sometimes it’s a reflection of your yesterdays.
And then you wake up one day, and staring at you in the mirror is the grown up version of the person you have to be. Time waits for no one. Tomorrow is not another day, it’s a new day. And yet with that reality comes the harsher actuality there is no guarantee that it will be your day. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring and you can’t stop the changes that have begun to evolve, so you choose; you make choices that will adapt to the transformations in your life. Your friendships change, some will end, and some will grow. New people come into your life that will add more dimensions than you thought possible and you find yourself sometimes in spite of the good and the bad, fighting to hold on to those things that were once you, afraid that if you let go, you’ll be lost. And then you grow again. And that’s what life is all about, at least to me it is. My mirror says so.
I remember the year I grew up or at least the year it all started. I remember fighting it because it wasn’t fear of getting older that got to me; it was fear of the unknown. I grew up in a family of tough women and men who celebrated each year of their life as if it had been more of an accomplishment than it was another year of growing older. To them, their belief was if God had allowed them one more year of life, then they were going to live the next New Year thanking him by facing whatever challenges came their way and appreciating the fact that God trusted them enough to handle it. I never understood that because these were the same people who told me that tomorrow was promised to no one, so how could they be sure that God was going to give them another year? But that was me, always questioning things to the point of frustration. Whenever my inquisitive mind would start churning, my mother would say, “Ay Dios Mio, Margarita, you are going to wear your brain out before you get a chance to grow into it. It is good to question things in life but sometimes, it is also good to keep things simple. Let your mind relax Margarita. You don’t have to know every thing by tonight. We may not know what tomorrow will bring but I’ve got a feeling that God is going to let YOU live a long time to punish me for driving my own mother crazy like you are doing to me now when I was your age.”
I hated growing up sometimes and yet now, when I think back, I don’t know if I would change anything that did happen, except of course the day when…..
To be continued…
Excerpted from the Book –Summer Dreams by Sonia Agron
Copyright © 2006 by Sonia Agron