No Lifeguard on Duty



I saw a picture on Instagram a few hours ago, a handful of kids piled on a colored plastic slide that’s the length of my leg, but from the looks on their faces, you would’ve thought that it was the carnival at dusk with cotton candy and a ferris wheel.
I think the holidays really bring out the best and the worst in me, as they do most people. The best, I don’t know. Ask someone who spends time with me. The worst, however, is that deep gut-wrenching feeling that everything is different and that things have changed. People, loved ones you’d spend hours conversing with as kid are suddenly grown-ups who really have nothing in common with you. You can’t talk to them about college or writing or Restoration drama because they don’t know anything about it.

Isn’t it strange how you’ve known someone you’re whole life, and then you wake up one morning and realize that you have very little in common? That feeling isolates me, keeps me from reaching out and trying to engage.

We can’t fit on that slide anymore. It’s no fun now that we’re adults.

I found myself desperately wanting to be a kid again, or at least have everything be the same for me. I don’t know if my loved ones noticed the change, since things start to blend together after so many years and now they just ask how college is, expecting an obligatory “good” and continue on with the conversation they’ve never left off after 19 years of holidays.

I’ve experienced this feeling a lot since going to school, occasionally coming back home, but mostly staying at school and burying myself in mounds of homework and meetings and activities. All good things that I love, and have moulded me into the person I am today. However, that person is not the same person who left for college a year and a half ago, and when people make assumptions, or take no notice of how you’ve changed, it’s unnerving, startling.

But they’ve changed too, widening the gap between us. Age, cancer, dementia have created a gorge, and we stand at opposite edges, our arms not long enough to reach. So I make up my mind, every time I go home, every time I see them, to open my mind and be less self-centered. It doesn’t have to be about me, and I can sit back and listen to yard sale finds and doctors appointments, even though I am regulated to the role of a passive listener.
it. is. difficult. | you’ve changed more than you thought.

Its unnerving to find yourself in a place, in the company of those you know so well, to find that only the childhood you knew them. You’re an adult now, and you see the slide with the eyes of an adult, and so the illusion is ruined.
No lifeguard on duty at the empty, winter beach.


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