Sitting at Starbucks I eavesdrop on the two young women sitting just feet from the table I’ve chosen to write at today. I’d say I don’t mean to do it, but that wouldn’t be true at all. Eavesdropping is one of my guilty pleasures. They talk about everything from school to summer plans and I gather that they are students at our local Christian University.
Everything about them is familiar to me, from their mannerisms to their lingo to their attempts at honesty while so obviously waiting on the cues from their friend to see if they really can say that thing they want to say.
It seems like not all that long ago that I was right there. Right there. I hear the questions hidden underneath as they talk about their boyfriends. I see the anger bubbling behind the smiles as they commiserate on difficulties of still living at home. They’re trying so hard to figure it all out, to just get out and get on with it, whatever it is. And they’re pretty sure they’re close, they’re on the right road. After all, college and serious boyfriends and part time jobs, that’s how you get where you’re going, isn’t it?
And I want to tell them, maybe. Maybe it will all be just like that.
But then I want to tell them about how I ran through my college campus with my final tucked into my rain jacket, having finished it only ten minutes earlier. How then I went home and watched Friends for two weeks straight. How I wrote for the school newspaper and how my Old Testament professor almost made me miss my great-grandmother’s funeral. How I would have taken the F, if he really wanted to play that game. I want to tell them how the girls down the hall prayed for me and how it made me spend even more time with that boy at the state college down the road. I want to tell them that I learned something just this year that made me laugh until I cried. I found out that the Jewish men bless their wives with Proverbs 31, singing it over them at Sabbath meal. It’s not some standard or check list. It’s just a song, a thanks for being you melody.
I want to tell them that I wish I’d pushed back even more. I’d say how happy I am I married that boy from the state college when I was 20 years old even though it cost me my perfect reputation. How I sort of wish we’d turned right when we saw the sign leading to Vegas, and that I’d been 18 or 19 on my wedding day instead. How it cost us. How that first year was hard, not just because we were young, but because we were tired. We were depleted, having tried so hard to make everyone a little less worried and frustrated with us. And it wasn’t worth it.
I’d tell them, I’m not saying get married or quit school or run away from your families. I’m just saying that I know there’s something you’re not doing. Something you think you don’t mind sacrificing. Something that’s going to sneak up on you again someday. So just do it, or try it anyway. And then keep trying, and watch who sticks with you.
I’m thinking now about my boys. My precious sons. And I know that right now I just want them stop jumping off the furniture and keep their seat belts buckled, because, hello?? Head injuries! But I know the truth is, some day they’ll have something they’re not doing too. They’ll look at me and their dad and wonder if it’s worth disappointing us. And I realize that I hope they feel that way. I hope they sense that tension, because it means they know how much we love them, and it means that even in their teenage angst, they love us. But then I hope they do it. I hope they find that little bed of security that says, you’re loved, you’re loved, you’re loved, and I hope they jump.
I glance back at those girls. I want to pay for their coffees, and I want to tell them to take a drive. And then, I’ll say, when you see that sign for Vegas, turn right.