Yesterday, my children and I found ourselves at my alma mater homecoming parade.
I choose this as my alma mater, although I did not graduate from the college, my heart never left.
My roommate, best friend, the other half of my brain was in town for our graduating class 10 year anniversary. Had she not been, I likely wouldn't have gone at all. I love her something fierce though, and gladly snatched the opportunity for much of the day together.
It was the first time I've visited in a few years. It was fun, and sad, and nostalgic, and contemplative.
I was nervous to go, because most everyone I knew from there knew me back when... back when I was young, in love, starting a life story with my former husband. They watched our relationship grow and blossom and be challenged and solidify. They all knew me back then.
Over the course of two years, I developed friendships there. One friendship in particular, with my aforementioned roomie bestie, has remained strong and really been cultivated over the last 14 years. As it usually goes, most dissipated to merely Facebook type friendships with occasional check ins and comments. I still consider these friends to be friends, but not close friends. It doesn't mean I don't value them, of course.
I knew that seeing my bestie would be wonderful. She's stuck by me through better and worse, longer now than my former husband did, and long enough to be family. But, I didn't know what to expect from seeing anyone else I knew.
I wasn't really a part of Augie long enough to leave a lasting mark, and I certainly don't believe I was very memorable or important to most people beyond my bestie, a camp friend, and one professor. When I saw people I knew, my inclination was to shy away because I was pretty sure they didn't know me well enough or like me enough to really have a conversation. It's okay, though, because I had my kids along to supervise.
As I sat and listened to people catch up with one another later in the day, while I pushed all three kids on swings, I felt myself retreat inwardly. Here were my classmates living their dreams and pursuing their careers and making something out of themselves and their degrees and had all sorts of accomplishments and stuff to talk about and compare.
And then there was me. The one who left after two years to pursue a social work degree that I used for a while. The one who had a fairy tale love story and three children whose life turn a psychotic thriller type turn, and now lives day to day usually, her main aspiration and goal to raise good children and provide them with a home and some sort of consistency.
I felt inadequate, by no fault of anyone's except my own inner demons.
After talking with a trusted friend, I realized that my three children are a huge accomplishment and while they're not a career accomplishment or any great material reward or something, they're happy, thriving, and filled with the joy and love of the Lord.
So there's that.
Sometimes, I wish I had stayed there. I wish I had been a part of the last two years with my class and had those lasting friendships many do.
But, I won't play the what-if game.
Really though, it was a good day. It was filled with laughter, smiles, some hugs, new memories, renewed and new friendships, and the beginning of sparked interest in my oldest child toward pursuing academic dreams in his future.