On Growing Up

As a kid, the Sandlot was my favorite movie. I would watch the Sandlot over and over again, always turning it off before the end.

Spoiler Alert: The Sandlot ends with the main character, who narrates the movie, sharing what became of his 11-year-old buddies as they grew up. One “got really into the 60s and no one ever saw him again,” another married his crush and a had a boat load of kids. “When one guy would move away, we never would replace him on the team with anyone else. We just kept the game going like he was still there.”

The ending of the Sandlot always got me as a kid because I knew the reality that childhood would eventually end, and that people I loved would grow up, move away, and that life would inevitably change. The same was true for the ending of the Wonder Years, which is still one of my favorite shows of all time. Both reflect how bittersweet it is to grow up.

When I was young, I would think about growing up a lot. I remember being about 11 or 12 and standing in my driveway as the sun was setting over the field down the street. I had just said goodbye to my two neighbors, who had to go inside for the night. I had this feeling of sadness well up in my chest. In all reality, I think it was the end of the summer and I was lamenting on quickly my favorite season had passed.

“This is the class of 2006,” my principle said at ourfifth grade graduation. “2006,” I thought, “That’s so far away!” With more than a decade gone, it’s odd to remember the thought that 2006 was once “so far away.”

Much as I love music from my coming of age years, I try not to be overly-nostalgic. Last weekend, however, as I watched my childhood best friend get married, I was slapped in the face with a handful of nostalgia.

Much in the way that the Sandlot ends, it was the sense that so much of my formative years were shared with my neighbor and his little brother, who is also now married. We would spend every day together, from the time there was dew on the grass until it was time to go in for homework and dinner.

As I watched my neighbor marry his beautiful bride (who is a smashing fit for him) and his little brother toast him, I couldn’t help but think back on those years we spent together, and the sadness I felt for having lost touch over the last decade. I realized there was so much I don’t know about the men they’ve grown to be, not a function of choice so much as a reality of time and space.

I went to school(s), moved around the country, got married, started a career, and grown up. And they’ve done the same, they've grown up too. Standing there and seeing the men they’ve become made my heart incredibly happy. Much as I wish I were closer to be the sister I was to them for so many years, I know distance and separation are parts of life.

I let myself have the drive home and the time before bed to “be in my feels” about the passage of time. I silently thanked them and God for the beautiful childhood and freedom we experienced in growing up together and for all the love we have in our lives as adults.

The next morning, as I woke at 6AM to head to my nephew's 3-year-old “Day Out with Thomas the Train” birthday extravaganza, I smiled and realized how glad I am to be where I am.

I am fortunate to love where I live, the work I do, and the person I get to share my days with. I savor these special moments back home and drink in as many giggles as I can hear from my two nephews. I hug my mom and my dad extra tight, and I relish the times that we are all together, because like 1999 and 2006, I know they come to pass too soon.

Life happens in the present. Memories are cherished things, but living in the past often keeps us stuck. I try to remember this as I drink in the day with gratitude and presence.

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