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Saturday, October 01, 2005

An introspective trip down memory lane

Father in Chief, Toddler in Chief, and are in Boston for a wedding this weekend. It's the first time I've been in Boston since before I was pregnant. And, to my surprise, I have mixed feelings about being in the town I went to college in with my family.

When we were flying here, I felt so excited to walk through Northeastern University's campus, to see how much has changed, to pass by the dorms I lived in, and to soak up some of the campus energy that lingers around colleges. This time of year—the beginning of the fall semester—is especially exciting, as thousands of first-time students arrive, liberated from their high-school selves and the small towns they grew up in.

But instead of feeling excited to be visiting the city and the campus where I spent the better part of five years, I have been feeling ambivalent about being around all of that unbridled college spirit, the hopefulness, and the feeling that anything is possible.

Perhaps it is because I know not everything is possible—although I'll keep trying.

But more than that, it is strange to be in a place where I spent five years and to think about myself and the woman that I have become. When I was a college student, I don't think it ever occurred to me that 10 years later I would be married or have a baby or be an at-home parent. When I was in college, I thought about what exciting jobs I would get and what career path my education would take me down.

I remember pitying women I worked with when I was in college, who were "trapped" by their kids and husbands. They were in their late 20s and early 30s and they seemed so old, so foreign to me. I also remember (with remorse) giving women the evil eye--as their babies cried on the flight from Boston to Buffalo--on my trips to see my parents.

I guess it's just strange to think that I have changed so much during the past 10 years. Circumstances and time change us and shape us. Fundamentally, I believe I'm the same women I was when I graduated college. But in so many ways I’m different from who I set out to be. Not necessarily better or worse, just different.

As I walk around my alma mater with my husband and son on Monday, I'm sure some of the young women will pity me, and vow to never become me. At the same time, I suspect that I'll be relieved that I'm not them.

3 comments:

  1. I'm going to my 15th college reunion and I know exactly how you feel. I'm just now starting to feel like I'm on a track to become what I thought I would become when I graduated. It's modified by the circumstances, but it's still a version of what I had in mind back then.

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  2. First--have a good time! Second, I think the melancholy feelings are about a couple things. 1) You are no longer a college student. I LOVED that time in my life, and well, hated to see it go. And now with a child, I KNOW it is gone. and 2) All those women that might look at you and wonder why you are there or think that won't become them... well, we know better. Some will and some won't.

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  3. I am currently at your alma mater, although in a graduate program, AS that 30-something woman with 2 kids at home. I am sure that my fellow classmates look at me as if I *am* that old person who lives in a different world than they live in. I do, honestly, live in a different world.

    There are also quite a few young men who I am in school with who I know judge me - for being at school, for planning on going to work. Who seem to "know" on my behalf that when it's time to look for a job, I'll be wanting part-time, or that I'll be wanting something that comes with a promise of 9-5, rather than the potential for 9-9.

    I really DO NOT want a job that will put me at work every day from 9-9, but I'm willing to juggle an ocassional need for 9 to 9 with my historical passion for my children and their lives.

    I really love your blog, and the straight forward way you examine the struggle that women go through.

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