Old Me

How is it that, no matter who you morph into over time, one of your kids ends up being the exact old you? I am talking about the old you that you wouldn’t wish upon anyone. The old you who did not think about anybody else but yourself. The old you who would do the wrong thing, just because. I’m mean the old you who did things that you do not like to think about (much less talk about) today because you are horrified that you would ever make such choices and you cannot believe that you ever did any of those things??? (Well, let me not say the exact old me. I must clarify that said child has not completely measured up to the old me-there are some differences. Said child is not as heinous as I think of the old me as being, once upon a time; however, there are a LOT of startling similarities). Anyway. I am sure you get the picture: The old you that you are glad you are no more….

That Old Me came home this weekend. I knew that Old Me was coming, because we had shared a few texts and I knew about some things that Old Me had talked to his dad about. I guess the beginning was the shitty semester that Old Me had at school this past spring. The actual old me is no stranger to shitty semesters. Oh, Right! They were shitty quarters back in my day. Old Me is about to turn 21 at the end of the month. Coincidentally, I recently obtained a copy of my transcript from UGA. The data suggests that I began to fall apart in 1990-1991. Guess how old I was? 20-21. Wow, Old Me! (and actual old me!)

Anyway. Old Me was not here for a family visit. He was here for two nights of Trey Anastasio with his dad. On Sunday, we called Old Me into our bedroom for a chat. We already knew that Old Me wanted to take time off from school. We asked Old Me what we could do to help him. Old Me looked us square in the face and said, “nothing. I don’t want your help.” OUCH, Old ME! I’m not sure that actual old me would have said that. Old Me went on to tell us that he really doesn’t think a degree is going to help him much. He doesn’t want to graduate and go into an entry-level position. Also, he is tired of answering to anyone. He wants his independence. Oh MY GOD, OLD ME!! I mean REALLY! Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. WTH? You have NO CLUE how good you’ve got it!!! We are paying for EVERYTHING and ONLY asking YOU to go to class and do your work! What MORE could you possibly ask for???? The actual old me had it that good too, and I couldn’t seem to make it work either. In fact, I am pretty sure that most of the dumbass, contradictory statements that I made back in 1990-1991 actually came out of Old Me’s mouth on Sunday. I felt like I was watching a video of myself 30 years ago. Well, except Old Me has much better hair than actual old me did 30 years ago.

We ended the conversation with the old, “we are here if you need us”. I was crying by then. Old Me hugged me and told me it was nothing we had done or not done. Old Me’s dad told him he would be sending him an itemized list of everything that we pay for. That made me snort, then cry harder. Then, Old Me left. I spent the entire afternoon remembering the actual, for real, old me. I cried harder. I used to think that growing up was the hardest thing. It’s not. Watching your kids grow up is. I love you, Old Me, more than you can possibly know.

“Everybody knows-it hurts to grow up-And everybody does-It’s so weird to be back here-Let me tell you what-The years go on and on-We’re still fighting it-We’re still fighting it-And you’re so much like me….I’m Sorry” Ben Folds

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6 thoughts on “Old Me

  1. Patricia H Jude

    My younger son, didn’t want to go to college when he graduated HS, but his dad insisted he go. I reasoned he wasn’t ready, but dad was adamant, so he applied to GSU, & started there. He lived in his GA Tech bro’s apt, & got a job as a DJ at WRAS, then as night Program Director. He squeaked by gradewise, then in his sophomore year announced he was going to drop out till he figured out what he wanted to do. He had applied & gotten a job at Yellowstone for the summer, to be there by Memorial Day! I was all for it, as I empathized with his ‘different drummer’ self. He drove to Yellowstone, & worked in the employee dining room away from the main lodge & loved it!! He learned to fly fish, hiked & camped on his days off, told me he really loved serving his coworkers, made friends with kids from Japan, Czech Republic, etc. After Labor Day, he & a few of those friends made a road trip to the West Coast, camping on the way, stayed at a hostel in SF, explored Haight-Ashbury, drove north to Oregon, camped in the Redwood Forest & ended up in Portland. They got some work for a contractor & after a week, started back for NY, where one friend flew back to Prague. Chris drove to Philly to visit his brother, then home. He delivered for Dominos through Christmas, sold his car & returned to Portland. (Each change allowed him to mature more & find himself…Dad was still not financing; Chris found work to support himself. He enrolled in a couple of courses at Portland CC & did well. Came home for bro’s wedding in May, then off to Yosemite for a summer job. This was his life for 2 more yrs, when he realized he wanted to work in eco-friendly industry. Then he discovered that he missed family & the SE. He returned to establish NC residency & go to App State. Majored in Appropriate Technology & graduated, having help establish a BioFuels dept, there! He’s built bio-fuel processors, run a bio-fuel plant here, built & run a distillery here, & is now Head Distiller at High Wire Distillery in Charleston. He just turned 40, & is happy, married, a homeowner, still brilliant & kind! I gave him room to spread his wings! (Oh, & he is extremely well-read from his time in the mountains!!)

      1. David Narramore

        Gaga always told me that “someday you’re going to get ‘payback’ when you have children of your own”… and boy was he ever right! Welcome to “The Club”. Ironically though, both you and your brother have turned out to be fine adults whom I’m very proud of.

        It’ll all work out…sooner or later Old Me will get a grip on reality and get his act together. In the meantime, get JC to work on that itemized list to send him.

        I love you…..Daddy

  2. Laura

    Once again your writing brings me to tears. My oldest daughter took a semester off and may or may not go back in the fall. I thought parenting would get easier as they got older. I am finding it quite the opposite. She always knows the door is open for her. I think that’s all we can do.

    1. ❤️ thank you. It took some time for me to figure out how to write this without placing the blame on the child, or on myself-though I know I do blame myself. The child was one of the first people to put a heart by it on FB, which brought tears to my eyes. Our door is always open too. I guess we have to let them do their own thing-even if we have been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt. I’m with you-the easy part was when they were young. Thank you for your comment. I hope things go well with your daughter❤️

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