Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tomorrow, when our world changed

One year ago, on the weekend that has just ended, we went camping. It was the first night of the season in New York for state park camping. We found a great site at Treman State Park. We set up the tent, gathered some firewood, read books around the campfire, and cooked up some dinner. That night was literally freezing cold. All four of us slept in a huddled bunch under multiple sleeping bags and blankets to keep warm. In the morning, we ate breakfast cookies, went hiking, packed up camp, and went home.

That family camping trip was such a wonderful experience, one of those rare times where you don't need to wait until afterward to recognize its wonderfulness - you realize it even as you're experiencing it. To this day, all my memories of our little camp in the woods seem to be cast in a soft, cosy glow, the perfect embodiment of everything we loved about Ithaca and how hard we'd worked to get there.

The next day, Jeremy received a job offer from the American University of Sharjah. In a moment, everything changed.

And you know what? I yearn for The Day Before, that day of camping when everything was as it was, and always would be. When we were happy in Ithaca with no reason to think of leaving. When it was just us and upstate New York, a happy future stretched out in front of us for at least another year or two.

I'm not saying I wish we'd never left Ithaca, and that's what makes my yearning for The Day Before so impossible. We are happy here in Sharjah and we made the right decision, but I treasure those halcyon days when we didn't know the UAE was a brilliant option for our family.

I don't miss living in Ithaca as much as I miss living in Ithaca in a state of blissful ignorance of what was to come. Do you see the distinction?

But you can never get it back. You can never go back to The Day Before.

There are other Day Befores in my life. They are usually a treasured moment before finding out some piece of news that closes a certain door forever. The Day Before finding out I wasn't pregnant, when I'd already picked out maternity clothes and calculated a due date. The Day Before we learned we'd be in Cairo, not Alexandria, when my dream of a Mediterranean Summer could still have come true. The Day Before I decided not to go to law school, and grad school slipped (almost!) out of my reach.

Am I the only one who looks back on these moments of beautiful impermanence? What are your Day Befores?


Crys said...

How about the day before we found out we'd be in Indianapolis for the next four year and had no chance of going home. It's not like I love Utah or anything but after eight years of living on the opposite side of the country from my family I thought, "wouldn't it be nice if for just a few years I could drive to my moms in a day just for the heck of it...or vice versa...like maybe when I was having a baby at Christmas time I wouldn't have to be frantically searching for someone who had stuck around in our college town for Christmas to watch my kid inbetween contractions." The day before match day that was still a possibility. Like you said, it doesn't mean I'm not happy with where we are going, but sometimes you miss the possibilities right?

Liz Johnson said...

The day before I lost my last pregnancy (the one I lost at 16 weeks). The day before Chris came home from his mission (and I had big plans to go to Uganda in the summer). The day before we got into Notre Dame and I was still fantasizing about living in a gigantic house (for cheap!) in DC instead of a tiny apartment (that was more expensive than the house in DC).

I love this post! It's going to have me thinking all day!

AmandaStretch said...

I remember the day before I got my job offer in DC. My best guy friend was moving into my apartment with me, but before we moved all his stuff, I rocked a phone interview while sitting on his front steps. I walked into his old place and said "Well, that was a great interview, but I'm not moving to Virginia. They'll never pick me." And we spent the rest of the day moving and setting up house together. (Note: I don't necessarily advocate guys and girls living together as roommates and I never even told my parents he was doing more than taking over my contract when I left, but we only ended up living together for two weeks anyway.) The next day, I had a job offer and my world has never been the same since.

Amanda said...

The day before I found out I was pregnant with Ethan. I really don't recommend getting pregnant 9 months postpartum, then going back to school at 6 months pregnant, then birthing a baby the week between semesters, then having an infant while taking 15 units at a time.

Kathy Haynie said...

Too personal to share in a post, but yes...I get this, exactly. I write in a diary that has space for 10 years of the same date on a single day, so I will come across those "day befores" at random times. They are always poignant, often sad...

Craig said...

The most recent one of those for me was the day before my bike accident (April 2). I see emails from the days before and reflect on how oblivious I was regarding what was to come.

I have always tried to make a point of relishing the moment and counting my blessings at times of good fortune, or certainly lack of great burdens.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I think of my friend 'L' who broke her leg last June. It was such a trial as her first grandchild was soon to be born and she would not be able to travel to see the baby for a while. As I sympathized with her, neither of us could have known that the most major trial ever was just around the corner for her. The grandchild was born and at the same moment the sweet new mom was diagnosed with cancer, and died 4 months later. Oh, to go back in time to the trials of last June.


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