June 21, 2004

four years gone by

My friend Otto has a good entry today on getting his driverís license renewed (happy birthday, Otto!) and mulling over the life changes since the last time, four years ago. I found myself thinking as I read, ďBut my life hasnít changed in four years, Iím just treading water.Ē And then I got sad.

Perhaps prematurely.

So letís take stock. Four years ago:

We were still renting. We moved into this house three years ago last week. Homeownership has wiped out debt and built badly needed security. Now when weíre afraid the bottomís about to fall out of our life, we look at each other and say ďWell, we can always sell the house and live on that for a few years.Ē I think, too, itís turned us from have-nots to haves in our own minds, and thatís colored our attitude toward life. You carry yourself with more confidence if you think of yourself as a have. Thatís why success breeds success. Well, homeownership breeds Ė um Ė more homeownership? No, rather more than that. Is good.

I was still attempting to write the Great American Screenplay and baffled about why it wasnít working out for me. Well, duh. Because thatís not my strength nor my passion. Somewhere in the past few years I stopped trying to stuff myself into that ill-fitting hole and found myself a more suitable niche. It has yet to bear fruit, but hey, itís a gradual process, building a new writing career. Iím patient. Well, sort of. Well, okay, not at all. But still. I know it takes time. (Took time? Will have taken time? Is almost done taking time?)

A then two-year-old Damian had yet to be diagnosed. That happened very nearly three and a half years ago. Do I need to say? It changed everything. Turned it all upside down and then, in time, right side up again. Plunged us into the most intense, high-stakes work weíve ever done, raising his developmental level up and up again. Four years ago we didnít know but it was hardly a blissful ignorance. It was hard as hell to be a parent, only I never understood why. I far prefer this. Easier and so much more rewarding. And better for him, too.

Hmm. Iím thinking maybe a few small adjustments happened along the way from there to here. Ya think?

Iím curious: have the past few years been as change-intensive for other people as they have for Otto and for me? Is that the nature of life, only you donít usually look back with such simple clarity, or have these years been singularly noteworthy? Iíd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Posted by Tamar at June 21, 2004 10:54 PM

Hmmm....four years ago I was finishing up five years at my last nonptofit PR job, about to pick up stakes and move to New York on a wing and a prayer. Almost every aspect of my life here differs rather profoundly from my life in San Francisco. Is it our age, or the times, or both?

Posted by: Chris at June 22, 2004 11:27 PM

I think that having a kid diagnosed with PDD/autism spectrum -- usually happens between 2-3 years old -- and then the ensuing 3-4 heavy-duty intervention years until they are established in elementary school -- whether mainstream or special ed -- is a uniquely intensive crisis period in a life.

Not the same, but comparable to the cancer-chemo-radiation-remission process.

It changed me more profoundly than any other experience in life -- including marriage and parenthood or any part of my career. I view it as my real passage into adulthood -- it is the most profound feeling of responsibility I've ever felt.

Posted by: Allison at June 24, 2004 01:17 AM