Saturday, January 29, 2011

1/29/2010 The former and current life

Sleepover last night...Dave and I went out to dinner and had a nice evening.

But around 3am, I woke up hard and just couldn't shut my mind off. I don't know why, but I was struck with an intense urge to take care of one of those lingering projects. This is to digitize some ancient VHS videos of dance recitals to DVD, using a DVD/VCR player we bought years ago with that express purpose.

And I did, I thought. The DVDs aren't playing everything I tried to put on them, and won't play at all on a computer. I'll figure that out, but meantime it was so interesting to see this old part of my life. It was more than just a part of my life, my life revolved around it. And now it's barely more than a distant memory on crumbling old tapes.

One pair of tapes was particularly interesting: a weekday dance recital in 1998, then some footage from the weekend Reno 200 dual-sport ride in 1998. The two events almost overlapped, but I found a way around it. Thursday night, I had the first recital night. Friday morning, I rode my motorcycle WFO in a record-breaking 3-1/2 hour trip to the Reno airport, where I parked it and flew back to San Jose. I remember calling my father and talking to him over the sound of slot machines at tha airport. Friday night, I did the 2nd recital, then very early Saturday morning, flew back to the Reno airport where I picked up my motorcycle and rode to the start of the Reno 200 ride in Boomtown, meeting Dave (who was not my boyfriend yet) and two other friends.

In my current life, I regret more and more that I'm such an older parent. Having my first baby at age 38 wasn't a big deal at the time, but now at age 47 and entering the max-activity stage of my kids' lives, I find myself more concerned than ever that my age might limit my full enjoyment of my kids' childhoods, and their memory of me. So far it's only made me more determined that they'll only really realize how old I am in retrospect -- "Mom took us camping all the time, being in her 50s didn't stop her." But though my unnatural schedule explains most of my chronic exhaustion, I know there are limits -- at some point I will have to face declining energy and resilience from age. My creaky lower back is a stark indicator of that.

But seeing video clips of my dance and motorcycling life reminds me that my life was very full before the children -- I didn't squander my youth. Dance and motorcycling weren't directly why I had kids so late in life, but whatever drove me to do those things and away from a more settled life were. Perhaps that same drive will keep me tuning out my contemporaries' increasing complaints about age, and maintaining a healthy state of denial. I have to -- what's the alternative?

(Recently I had to chuckle when my coworker and I were stretching to go out for a run at lunch. Another coworker had stepped out for a smoke, and started listing his injuries to explain why he couldn't join us -- somehow our running invites everyone's excuses. We made sympathetic noises and went off for our run. The funny thing is that the injurious smoker is in his 20s, whereas my coworker and I are both 47, and he's a grandfather! There's no denying our age but there's definitely an attitude difference.)

At some point in life, I'll be old enough that looking at videos of my former life will be worthwhile reminiscence, joyful memories with no regrets. I'm not there yet. I'm not ready to sit back and take stock of my life as though it's over. My back may have other ideas about resuming dance classes, and certainly my schedule would never allow it, but my heart hasn't given up.

Fortunately my heart has plenty else to keep it occupied -- tomorrow is Gabriel's NINTH birthday, and what could fill my heart more than that!


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