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A Sunday Challenge Post

Marc, Chief Troublemaker number 1, over at Sorryless, has once again issued to both Karen, KC Sunshine Troublemaker number 2, of Table for One, and me, Notorious Q Troublemaker number 3 (hey, my blog, my order), a writing challenge. I love that he calls us the Holy Trinity and Karen has her own ideas on who’s holds what position, and after quite the discussion last night, I have agreed to her order.

So, what’s the challenge, you ask? Sounded like it was simple enough. Go back in time to meet someone in 1985 (a nod to the Back to the Future original movie made that very year) and explain to them what 2018 looks like. As this is really close to the last day of said 2018, I realise it is high time I do my part. I have started and chucked and started and chucked again. Ideas coming in and then being dismissed. Marc’s brilliant post is here and Karen’s just as brilliant one, here. Their writing is so wonderful and heartfelt and true that I found myself even more stuck because I thought, shit, unlike them, no particular event in my own life happened in 1985 that affected me so deeply that I could dig it up and use it like they did.

Except.

Hopefully, without sounding schizophrenic, I’ll meet up with my own 21-year-old self and have a little chit-chat with her. To avoid confusion, me, aged 21, shall be known as Rog, a nickname used by four people for me.

“So, Rog, 1985 has been quite the year for you, hasn’t it?”

“Whoa, Dale, am I that old in 2018?”

“What? I’m not that bad, for Chrissakes! 54 may seem old to you now, but trust me, when you get here? You’re gonna change your mind on what one defines as old. It’s all relative.”

She eyed the signs life had left on my face and body so far. “You’re ten years older than Mom is now but I’ll tell you what, not too shabby.”

“Gee, thanks. How gracious you are…”

“To what do I have the honour of hanging out with my future self? Are you here to warn me of something so that I don’t fuck it up?”

“Nah, nothing like that. Besides, messing with time can have some dire consequences. You saw the movie—

“Movie’s not reality—”

“Maybe not. But I’m here now and best we keep this little conversation to ourselves, k? Anyway, I’m not here for changes, because I wouldn’t change a thing. OK, that part is not entirely true… Some shit I wish I didn’t do, but it’s all part and parcel of where I am now, so. Just know there are some really good things ahead for you. And, yes, there is some heavy shit coming your way, too. I don’t know if I really should tell you but I’m here now so I’m going to fill you in anyway.”

“How heavy?”

“More than you want. And, as you can see, it’s not going to kill you. That old adage of ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’? It exists because it’s true.”

“God I hate that one.”

“Yeah, I know… can we continue?’

“Yeah, yeah. What did you mean by ‘quite the year I had?'”

“Lemme see… you ditched D after you refused to move in with him – kudos to you for knowing what you want and what you don’t – but you kept him around as a friend with benefits, went with him on vacation—”

“Best vacation ever! Know why? I didn’t give a shit. He couldn’t tell me what to do and convince me to participate in stuff I didn’t want to because I wasn’t his girlfriend!”

“You do realise, don’t you, that even if you were, you still wouldn’t have been obliged to do anything you didn’t want to.”

“Well. I guess. Maybe…”

“If only you had kept that confidence in your own judgment. However, here you are, living with P, your former gym teacher. I know. Kind of has that fairy tale feel to it when you guys reconnected five years after high school, eh? But now you find yourself a weekend stepmom. How’s that working for you?”

“It’s cool. Really, it is. The rest of the week, it’s just the two of us. With the requisite phone call to the kid on Tuesdays.”

“Uh huh. Keep trying to convince me. Well, Rog, here’s what’s coming. You are gonna last five years with this guy because, why really? After two years, you’ll have come the conclusion that this union was all about him and not about you. You’ll go nowhere, do nothing, plan zip. Three years later, by the age of 26, you are going to finally break free because you’ll realise you are too mature for his 37-year-old ass. Friends and family will come in to help you and you will move out on your own. You and P will drift apart because you didn’t have the balls to just say it was over.”

“Shit. You mean to tell me I am gonna waste five years of my prime?”

I smiled at her. “Nothing is a waste. Every choice you make, brings you to the next phase of your life.

“You won’t be alone long. You’ll meet R at work. A guy so totally not your type that you are immediately attracted to him. Before your one-year lease on your apartment is up, you guys will decide to move in together and the timing is perfect because Lisa and Chris, who are now married, will move out of their apartment into their first house and you and R will move into it. You’ll stay there a grand total of four months because Mom and Dad finally get divorced and you’ll buy the house. Within three years, R is going to go against everything he believes in to make you happy and ask you to be his wife. At 29 you feel it is ‘time’ to be married. The morning of the wedding your thoughts are going to be ‘what the fuck am I doing? Is it too late to cancel? This is so not what we should be doing!’ But you’ll convince yourself that yes, you can make it work.”

“Ah come on, Dale, am I that desperate?”

“No, you’re not desperate, you just think that’s where you should be in your life and you still don’t believe in yourself enough to say no. It’s a farce of a marriage over within 17 months. At the same time you also lose your job but the six months you live in that house solo, sans job? Turns out to be a priceless gift. Lisa was home with three babies. The twins were six months old, and Jennifer was only 20 months so you spent your days together. It helped each of you not lose your minds.

“Come March 1995, your life will change drastically.”

“Please give me good news!”

“You start a fabulous job with a great group and your friend Kathy convinces you to join Tele-Personals.”

“What? A dating service? I don’t need those!”

“No, well, what’s the harm? You meet some nut-jobs, but you also meet Mick. You guys go on your first date, and he never leaves. Mick buys R’s share in the house a few months later. Even quicker than you can bat an eyelash, you are pregnant. An oops, to be sure, but you both decide to embrace it. It is not a perfect pregnancy. You think you lose it twice and then the baby decides to come early. One month before your first anniversary of meeting each other.”

“Whoa. Um. Not too responsible of us.”

“Ya think? Anyway. I won’t give you all the deets because I can’t stay all day. Suffice it to say that you will have the challenge of your life ahead of you. Austin is what you guys name your little 4 lb 8 oz preemie. Born with a heart defect”

“Oh. We’re going to lose him, aren’t we?”

“After seven months and twenty-three days. This precious time you have with him will teach you just how strong and capable of anything you are. No one will ever be able to convince you otherwise because, for the first time in your life, you will be so confident in your abilities.”

“I don’t know if I wanted to know this.”

“Too late now. Do I stop here?”

“No!”

“Losing Austin puts a strain on you and Mick but it also cemented you. You decide to stay together and, after mourning, decide to build a family together. You have two more boys. Iain and Aidan, born 19 months apart.”

“We didn’t waste any time, did we?”

“You were already in your mid-thirties! But life is good. You guys have a great relationship on the whole. Sure you breathe each other’s air occasionally and there are gonna be fights because let’s face it, life cannot always be a bowl of cherries. And you need the pits to help remind you of the sweet. You’ll go on vacations and camping with Tracy and Sébastien and other friends occasionally and have many an adventure. And after seven years, you finally get married.”

“Jeez, what’s the rush?”

“Hah! Life got in the way and it wasn’t that important until it became something Mick and you really wanted. The whole big shebang with the dress, the open bar, the band, the party and your two precious boys, aged 2 and 3 as little groomsmen in their tuxedos just like Daddy’s.

“Mick started his own business and the family house became something he just didn’t want to have to keep renovating. So we got our big-ass house where Mick could have his office on the ground floor and watch people running to the bus stop. More trips, more camping, entertaining, activities. A really nice life.”

“Why do I have a horrible feeling, suddenly?”

“Dad died in May, 2013. Mick died in December the following year – God, he was only 51. It’s been four years already.”

“Aww come on! This can’t be real? I’m going to be a widow? Why are you doing this to me?”

“I’m sorry, Rog. This is your life. The good, the bad, the ugly.”

“How have you not completely fallen apart? How are you now, Dale? Is life good?”

“You know that much about us, Rog. We don’t fall apart. I’m doing pretty well, all things considered. Life is good.

“I’ve just come to the realisation that I’m not here for you at all. I’m here for myself. My telling you what lies ahead for you is really a reminder to me to look back at my journey so far, take stock of all my learnings and remind myself that I am who I am. That I am enough.  And I am still learning.”

 

Another Olde Lang Syne to say good-bye with a toast to the past and look forward to the future.

89 thoughts on “A Sunday Challenge Post

  1. Dale, I smiled at the start seeing your lovely smile. And then I watched it build, as we all do as people, and in our case as woman. Navigating loss, and accepting what is on our plate. This is gorgeous in so many ways. What a lovely retrospective look at a simply wonderful life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, what a life. And an interesting way to deliver the challenge. And reading it one thing (well, many) comes to mind. Language has changed. Social media in its many forms, and texting, has done that. I think our 1989 selves would quick a look at us and say, What’d you on about? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, you’ve done amazingly well to live rhrough all that and remain (relatively) sane. Not sure my young self would want to know her future, though, if she couldn’t change a bad decision or two! Happy new year x

    Liked by 2 people

  4. bonjour et merci pour tes gentils souhaits @ mon aire de jeux… à mon tour, comme dans qqs heures, 2018 prendra le large, je t’adresse le traditionnel:”bonne et heureuse année!” auprès de tous tes loved ones… ❤ et un rappel:"Pour chaque fin, il y a toujours un nouveau départ…"(Le Petit Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) 🙂
    * * *
    une excellente santé, courage, optimisme, joie, sérénité et… des océans d'inspiration! amicales pensées un 2019 selon les 3 "p": tes plans, projets et possibilités… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautifully pieced together. (I doubt you knocked that out in one sitting)

    Taking inventory of our life does have a way of helping us make sense of it all. . . or ar least most of it. Some things though, make no sense, but we move on.

    Happy New Year Dale and I look forward to continuing as a “blogging buddy”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ray. (No, you’re right. Took me all day, leaving, coming back, leaving again…)

      I like to think so – or this was an exercise in I don’t even know what!

      Happy New Year to you and yours, Ray. I do too!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Dale,

    Oh, my friend, you took my breath away with this one. I feel like I’ve been on a journey. You have me wondering what I would’ve said to myself in 1985. (NO, I’m not going there…not…not…not.) This is so well done. There. I said it. Here’s to a great 2019. ❤

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Rochelle,

      Honestly, this was so not where I originally planned to go but this prompt challenge had me tied up in knots. And then I read my cohorts’ fabulous takes and I was even more verklempt. So, I started and then, as can happen, lost total control over the direction.

      Thank you so my, my friend! Here’s to a 2019 filled with lotsa love and laughter, and good schtuffs!

      Dale xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Q,

    Yanno, you said recently how there is a person for everyone. And I must respectfully disagree. When you live a life, you find that there are endless someones for us. Each phase of our life brings new realizations, as it did with you then and it does with you now and guess what? Will do with you in the future as well.

    I think if we DID have the chance to talk to our younger selves, it wouldn’t change a thing. We would still do all those things we “shouldn’t have”. And as you have learned, mistakes teach us more about ourselves than about the other person. Because the universe really doesn’t speak to us, we speak to the universe.

    Well spun tale of the here and now. And a toast, to your future self. You have plenty of tales left to read and write on. 🙂

    B

    Liked by 2 people

    • B,

      Ya, I know I said that, but that was for your pizza-nutella dipping friend 😉

      All kidding aside, I do agree with you. There are endless someones – each playing a different role along that journey of life.

      For shizzle. We would do exactly what we did – probably in defiance! You are right again. We speak to the Universe. It listens and provides.

      Thank you, B. I shore hope I do! 🙂

      Q

      Liked by 2 people

      • Q,

        I do believe Jen could attest to the many. And she’s entirely appreciative of each and every one on the flip side, LOL.

        You got that right. I find that to be a comforting prospect. That we may be aligned very much like the stars. Robust and shining and always changing.

        The reason peeps think the Universe speaks to us? The echoes.

        Oh, you will. It’s all about life and living it.

        Peace, love and future talks with self.

        B

        Liked by 1 person

        • B,

          She and I both then 🙂 And yeah, when you look back, you can truly appreciate.

          Robust and shining and always changing – I really like that.

          Which is why it is so important to be clear when speaking to the Universe!

          Yes. Life is for living.

          Lotsa love and future chit-chats, bringing us peace,

          Q

          Liked by 2 people

  8. An inspiring tale of someone who seemed unsure, but who was actually living life, trying new things, perhaps being impetuous sometimes, but it’ll all make sense at the end, right? (Me, talking to past and current Dale because I can relate to a lot of this (not all, obvs), especially the “you just think that’s where you should be in your life and you still don’t believe in yourself enough to say no” and the “Is it too late to cancel?” wedding portions).

    To honoring the broken places, because that’s how the light gets in.

    Happy 2019. Wishing you peace, health, and happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Tara! It does make sense. Hell, at the time you start something, all gung-ho, you think so too… till of course, you wake up and tell yourself to hightail it outta there!

      Hear! Hear! To honouring the broken pieces.

      Happy 2019 to you and yours as well. Wishing you health, happiness, laughter and sunshine!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, Dale. Life’s a not-always-so-merry-go-round but don’t we know it …? Thank you for this peek into your life, and for the vulnerability and strength and wisdom and reality. We’re almost the same age, you know (think of me as a slightly younger sister, if you’d like), and though my life’s experiences were different, I can relate to the strength-wrought-by-pain-and-joy-combined, and the way the tough times can both break the heart and soften it. I’m so sorry for the losses, for the pain, for the harder times. Also glad that you are … you. And that you are like good wine – only getting better with age.
    Some of us turn vinegar.
    Some of us turn gold.
    🙂
    You’re gold.
    Hugs
    Na’ama

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nope it’s not. But that’s what keeps us going. Ever stronger and more appreciative of both the good and the bad.
      You see… I find, with what little I know of your experiences, a testament to YOU and your strength.

      Some of them then to vinegar… because that, you ain’t. You’re gold too.
      Lotsa love,
      Dale

      Liked by 1 person

      • Whew. I’d so MUCH rather be gold than vinegar … You see, me only like vinegar in some salad dressings, sushi rice, and such. Very limited engagement for vinegar in my view. Gold, however … 😉 I can do with that. 😉
        Jokes aside, yes, hardship can make us stronger. It doesn’t always, but it has the potential to. Not that any reasonable person (and I do consider myself kind’a reasonable … most of the time … on good days …) would CHOOSE hardship, but given that some of us having hurtling our way on a fairly regular – if unpredictable – schedule (too bad they never give the manual like you did in that post to your younger self!), the least we can do is buckle up, take (another) deep breath, and try to wade through the ugly on the way to the better in hopes of some good. Because good does happen, too. And it is always. ALWAYS. Worthy of finding.
        Hugs to you and lotsa love back,
        Na’ama (AKA Goldie who is happy to not be Vinnie) 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yo Goldie,

          Vinegar does have it’s purposes, no doubt, but let us not choose it as a main part of our character. We can use it when necessary, in limited amounts as a little goes a long way!
          And yes. No one chooses it – unless the connections ain’t connecting right – but yes, we do have two options: 1) Let it (them) take us down or, 2) Take it, use it, grow from it, and throw the no longer necessary parts away because yes. There is LOTS of good out there and it is ALWAYS worth finding.
          To choosing the latter!
          Not-Vinnie, but Goldie2

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Though I knew bits and pieces of your story this puts it in a larger, broader frame. You are really a powerful and deeply grounded woman, Dale. And you never lose sight of how to enjoy life. Keep on chugging through 2019. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for saying that, you wonderful Lady. I sometimes feel so far from grounded but this little exercise kind of made me take a closer look at myself.
      I definitely will always try to grab life and enjoy it! Will definitely keep on chugging!
      And a most wonderful, healthy, happy, full of laughter and wonderful poetry and adventurous New Year, Ina! xoxo

      Like

  11. Sounds interesting to have a dialogue with your earlier self. Imagine the different perspectives being there and here. Time keeps moving on like floating down a river. Love Dan Fogelberg and hope you have a Happy New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wonder how much of my younger self would actually listen or want to change anything. I like to say no. That we would choose the same path despite knowing what lies ahead…
      One of my favourites that I had forgotten till another blogger brought it up!
      Happy New Year to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree, Dale – think you’re probably right about that. It’s interesting to think about, though. I’m glad it isn’t like that. The past is past where it is and future too – where it is. Right now is where we really are.

        Whew! Sorry, got caught up in that for a moment. Hope you have a Happy New Year, too, and it’s good talking with you again. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I don’t know what I would tell my younger self. This is so intimate and real and beautiful, Dale!

    “I’ve just come to the realisation that I’m not here for you at all. I’m here for myself.” ❤❤❤❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was so blown away by Marc’s and Karen’s posts and what they went through in ’85, I was stuck. I finally chose myself to talk to and honestly, once I started… I had to cut back!

      Thank you so much for your kind words. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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