Monday, April 22, 2013

Writing the chapters of life

A small but significant event happened over the weekend that marked the end of one chapter in life and the beginning of another. While big events are easy to mark, even the smallest of changes can separate one chapter of life from another one.

For over a year, my husband has been telling me to cancel our YMCA family membership and either buy extra at-home exercise equipment or find a more up-to-date facility to join. Our local Y is often crowded on weekends with swim meets, the roof leaks constantly and the equipment has seen better days. Even though buying our own elliptical would have saved in gas and membership fees, the problem with machines is that they break. Our treadmill has needed repair twice and both times were during the winter, when we were unable to run outside. So it sat there waiting for the belt to get fixed while we just . . . sat. If it wasn't for the Y, I wouldn't have had a place to run.

Working at home all day, sometimes I just need to go out and see other people. Doing so eases the feelings of isolation, especially when it's cold, dark and dreary outside and I haven't been within ten feet of another human being besides my husband for days.  Now that both kids are in college away from home, this is even more true. And that was the core of the reason I couldn't let go.

You see, what I was having a hard time with was the fact that I had so many memories of my kids growing up attached to the Y. It's where my daughter took her first dance class. She was only two, but I signed her up for Intro. to Dance at the Y, anyway. All she did was twirl around in her tutu, ignoring the teacher and disrupting the other little girls with her chatter about how pretty her outfit was. She wasn't ready just then, but a couple years later she started classes at another studio in town and danced until she was sixteen. During those later years, while she was busy at pointe, jazz and tap class, I would dash off to the Y and do a workout. The Y is right across the street from the performing arts center where many of their shows were held. I can't drive by that place and not think of her in her satin pointe shoes, wearing her white lace tutu and glitter makeup while she danced to Tchaikovsky and snowflakes drifted down from the rafters.

The Y was also where my kids learned to swim. I'd signed both kids up for Pollywog class. At the end of the session, they took a swimming test to determine if they were ready for the next level. My daughter's assessment recommended she move up to Guppy. But my son's, who is a year younger, suggested he stay in Pollywog. Since the classes were on different days and I didn't want to make an extra trip downtown, I told them if they wanted to keep swimming, then they could both go to Pollywog again. My son was mad and wrote me the note above, stating in no uncertain terms that he was ready for the next level. He was six and had taught himself to read and write. Thus the phonetic spelling of the word "sien" (sign).

This weekend my husband and I were running errands when we noticed tons of people streaming in to the new Planet Fitness in town. On impulse, we stopped in to have a look. Fifteen minutes later we signed on the dotted line. Everything is brand spanking new, it's close to where we shop and costs less than the Y. We then drove downtown, where I cancelled our Y membership.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I walked out of the Y. It may have smelled like moldy ceiling tiles, been clogged with goggle-wearing little swimmers, and had squeaky equipment, but dang it, the place had MEMORIES. The problem was that I wasn't building any new memories - those little moments in life that matter - to replace them with. Being there only made me feel melancholy.

I will miss it, terribly. But there are times in life when you have to move on and start something new. It's good to shift gears at certain points, to be excited about new avenues. When we're young, we're always so ready for new adventures. But as we get older, if we stop challenging ourselves, stop seeking out the novel, we cease to learn and grow. I don't ever want to get that way.Time to write a new chapter in life...

Until later,

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