The bitter and the sweet

Yesterday I attended a symposium at my prep school and stayed for a few other events. I left feeling bittersweet about the day...

One of the people I saw was the wife of a man who was arguably the most important influence on my life. Seeing her again (she was my counselor senior year), talking with her about "back then" and about Jack... It's still difficult for me to imagine my world without him in it.

There was a toast to another teacher, another huge influence on my life; he's retired after 43 years at the school. I used to babysit for his daughters, and both are now distinguished teacher/scholars in their own right. Now there are only three people left that were there when I was there (including "my" school librarian), and one person that started the year after I left. As when I first became a great-aunt (just became one again for the fourth time), it's odd feeling that I've moved up a generation at this school.

Twice during the day, women who had been firstyear students my senior year came up to me - from behind - having recognized me by my hair. A friend, someone I'd work with at MPOW, said that she'd seen my yearbook photo and thought I looked pretty much the same. Hmmm.... it's been almost 30 years. Perhaps time for a new look?

The symposium was about "Women, Power and Possibility" and featured a panel of 20- and 30-something women who had started nonprofits that had some sort of global reach/impact. They were varying degrees of eloquent and poised, presenting themselves and their "passion" as an easy fait accompli. I'll be blogging about the symposium later, but my feelings about the women, about the opportunity and being back at the school made me feel odd.

While I was there I felt that I had unlimited possibility and potential. I've always felt that I haven't lived up to either - that I'm not as intentional as I would want to be, that I haven't achieved the things I could have achieved (and those that I have have come too easily or by happenstance rather than any great skill or accomplishment of my own), and that I'm not the person that my 14-, 15-, 16- and 17-year-old self could have been.

As I said, bittersweet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about the unrealized potential thing. It was upon accepting that my future (you know, that future that everyone who ever wrote me a letter of recommendation was talking about) had pretty much happened, only without the predicted "great things," that I had my midlife crisis (such as it was). It was nine years ago; I'm all better now, in a bittersweet* way (and am even looking forward, much more modestly, to my new future).

* But sometimes bittersweet is good-- chocolate, for instance!