More Behind You Than in Front of You
It was last summer that I stumbled upon this article from Charles M. Blow and a particular line stood out to me.
"I realized that, according to the odds . . . I have more summers behind me than in front of me."
In fact, it didn't just stand out, it hit me like a kick in the gut and sent a chill down my spine.
I am 51 and, while as a child I told my mother that I would live to be 105, it is very likely that I have more summers behind me than in front of me; as well as brilliant Autumns and splendid Springs, and, . . . all of it.
This is of course adopting the wildly vain assumption that I will live into old age. #noguarantees
Well damn. I immediately began to reminisce. . .what did I spend all of those 51 summers doing? I grappled to find memories, even just snippets of each one. They fell through my mind like the sand from our many family beach vacations would fall through my fingers.
But more important than remembering what I had done in those past summers, it made me think about what I wanted to do with the current one, and ones thereafter, if I was so fortunate to experience them. What memories needed to be made? What was left to be done? Like the author, I have laid to rest multiple friends and family, especially in the last decade. Time is very rarely on our side.
This life is short. Are we making it as sweet as we can in the time we have? Are we actively conscious of how we spend our days and nights or are we stumbling through, just 'getting by'? Are we toxically waiting for the magical 'someday'?
It was with this mindset that I approached a change in my summer plans. Sam and I had planned a road trip (tickets that were usually around $360 were $800 each!) to spend time with my family in Washington state. We would stop at fun places along the way and hit the coast. The week prior to the trip good old Covid switched things up on us.
I would be going back to visit alone and I wasn't going to drive 12 hours by myself. I considered briefly cancelling the trip all together. Flying gets you there in about 3 hours with a short stop in Seattle along the way. Tickets were now $900, which was an abominable price.
Then I remembered . . .'more behind you than ahead'.
I booked the ticket. It didn't take a whole lot of contemplating. My niece is 16 and nephew 14. How many summers will they want to hang out with Aunt Jody? I knew the answer as I remember being that age and being anxious to take flight.
I flew in and we drove to the coast, stayed at the beach house in Lincoln City; the Oregon beach town where we had spent countless childhood summers playing in the D river, staying at the Sea Gypsy motel, and having bonfires on the beach in the evening. After a few nights of the cool sea air (it was 63º on the coast and 101º back in the valley, just an hour and a half away) we made our way back up 101 to Astoria, stopping in Cannon Beach to grab a refresher and peruse the galleries and shops, including many places that had been favorites of my parents. The memories flowed, because we had made them. And I now have memories to add to the 51st summer of my life.
These are the days to remember. . .