Monday, January 26, 2009


According to dog experts, dogs don't remember what happened last week, nor do they hold grudges because you yelled, 'no, bad dog!' - they simply live in the moment. As I walked my girl, One, in the cold and dark of this evening, my mind started to wander, as it is want to do when we go for our nightly walks through the neighborhood. It wandered and wondered all at once, actually: wandered back into my past, then wondered why I couldn't stay in the present. I watched as One scampered along beside me, enjoying herself as she stopped to eat some snow or sniff a particularly odiferous spot on the sidewalk. Even when she suddenly pulled me across a sheet of ice and I had to yell and pull her leash back hard before she managed to herniate another one of my disks, she still looked up at me with love. She didn't care that when I pulled her leash, metal prongs put pressure on her fat little neckie; she just stopped and looked at me, like, "Come on, Mom, let's go!" All she wanted to do was continue on, leaving the past at the corner of Camp and Merrick Avenues.

But as I walked on, hoping that One didn't decide to do her backyard business in someone's front yard, my mind was somewhere back on Ann Road and Beach Drive in the years 1975 through 1990. God, there are so many things that I would do different. If I had a do-over, I would or should:

1) ...have taken the sharpest pencil from my pencil box in third grade and stabbed out the eyeballs of the boy who told me I was too fat and who started my path into deep, dark, calorie-restricted places. Or at least called him a jerk and kicked him in his nuts.
2) ...have accepted my parents' compliments and believed that they knew they were talking about... instead of believing a conceited third-grader.
3)...have studied harder.
4) ....have tried out for kickline a second time. If I managed a perfect split once, I could have managed one again... and make the judges pay attention to me this time.
5)...have continued writing through junior high school and high school. Who knows? I could have had tons of writing credits by the age of 18 instead of... ::thinking, thinking:: uh, none.
6)...have tried to forget about the idiot in do-over number one and all the subsequent idiots, male and female, who only made me worse. My calorie consumption from the years 1985-1990 totalled about... 1,000.
7)...have realized by age 15 - at least! - that I shouldn't have allowed my childhood chubbiness to define me.
8)...have learned the meaning of 'get over it!' waaaay earlier.
9)...have learned that the most important opinion of myself was my own.
10)... have told a former boss that he was an arrogant asshole and deserved, or even provided him with, a good ass-kicking. When someone works for you and offers to give more to the job, you don't yell and belittle said person.
11)... have gone to sleep-away camp (Camp Wayne!) or even college. College at 38 is awesome but somehow I bet at 18 it would have been really, really.... groovy.
12)... have gone fishing with m'daddy more. Why did I think I was too cool or too busy at 13 to do something with him that I loved so much?
13)...have been an athlete in junior high/high school. Trying to be fit now, at 38, has come with a painful price: bad knees, back, elbows, feet. All pain and weight gain...
14)...have learned that people's intentions are sometimes good, oftentimes misleading, too many times selfish. And instead of being continually surprised and/or hurt, I could just accept it and move forward.
15)...have not eaten enough pineapple during the '80's and '90's to feed a small country. This is linked to do-over #1 in some way.
16)...have bought Z. Cavariccis in more colors other than black and brown. They were flattering.
17)...have not let someone I adored move far away before we were able to wrap things up.
18)...have figured out a way to steal the Ralph Lauren perfume from the plastic container in 41's room, who had stolen it from 46's room, without her figuring it out.
19)...have cared more about what *I*thought of me rather than what everyone else did. Doing the right thing doesn't make people like you more and being liked doesn't always earn you respect. I'm still trying to figure that one out, and, finally...
20)...not have done a cartwheel on wooden floors without wearing protective gear.

Really, this list can continue on indefinitely. I would bet a lot of people might have a do-over list; some really short, some really long. And I don't think because I have one means I am bitter or completely unhappy; I think it means that I know I wasn't, nor am I now, perfect, and that I can hopefully learn from my past. That's partly what it's there for. This isn't to say I'm going to go out and buy, (or search the vintage racks) for white Z Cavs, but I might, let's say, ponder #s 14 and 19 a bit. I've already learned from #3 and have a nearly perfect GPA at Hofstra these days.

I can't help wandering into my past so often; there are things there that I need to draw from; to learn from. I don't stand in there wallowing and suffocating, though. (Okay, that's a lie. There are some times when people need to wallow.) One thing I intrinsically know, however, is that when I am with my children, I am like my dog, One: I must live in and for each of those seconds, not allowing anything in the past concerning my children to upset me. Pain of childbirth? Can't recall. The day my 2 year old saw too much Cinderella and called me a mean step-mother, even though I am her birth mother? Eh... barely registers. Okay, all kidding aside, I actually do relish every moment, even those hurtful ones, because I know these are the moments that will count the most, and that will outlive every other memory I've ever revisited. I'd never want to do these over; I'd simply want to do them again and again.

But, even though it was thirty years ago, and I am supposed to be evolving and mature, the one thing I still want to do is kick that boy from the third grade in the nuts.