"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller's Day Off
I've often thought about that quote since I've been in the Peace Corps. Shortly after arriving in Targoviste for training, I was given the news that my sister and brother in law would be having their second kid. Holy crap! I distinctly remember the time when they told me the news back with Kara and it seemed like something out of a poorly written sitcom. We were going out to Maggie Miley's for our usual Thursday night get together when Kim said,"So we have some news..." and I, being the person who must have been written in as the dimwit friend said, "You're not pregnant are you?" There wan't much of a break between the two sentences only to hear, "Yeah." As time went on, I was there pretty much every week through my sister's weird cravings like a toastie sandwich, not toasted and without the meat or butter, AKA a cheese sandwich, with mashed potatoes. Then up through the time when I found out that I was going to be an uncle that day in May, to hearing Kara say words for the first time, seeing her hold herself up on the couch, then start to take a couple steps while still holding on. Those are things I'll hopefully never forget.
So why am I interjecting a story from over 2 years ago?
I knew when I was joining the Peace Corps I would be leaving many things behind. Not only would I be away from friends and family for extended periods of time, but even more important, I would be away from the memories being created. Its difficult to be absent from those people but I know that when I come back, there are going to be new memories which are being made everyday which I wont be around for. Sure, I'm overseas making amazing memories here with my friends, but sometimes you just want to have a guys night out a Finnegan's watching a Blackhawks' game with Sean, Bob, and Otter. I already know that memory has changed with both Otter being in Colorado now and Bob being a new dad, but I guess that will be one of those things to deal with if they are different when I get back.
And now most recently, my life has really changed again. Since I've been gone, I've seen 5 babies come into the world from friends or family, with the most recent being my new nephew, Will. It's safe to say that March 3rd, 2011 will be one of the weirdest feeling days of my life. I was just as ecstatic as the day Kara was born, yet I was also just as sad as the day I finally said goodbye to all of my friends (not super sad, but sad enough). Sure, its not me missing the date of the birth of my own kid, but I still wished I could have been there. That same night, I was able to Skype with them from their iPhone (and video too! Damn that thing is cool) and I was able to see him, and not just through pictures posted on Facebook. I felt like I was there.
Today I was able to Skype with Kim and Charles and the fam and see Will again, and even have time to play some games with Kara via video chat. Seeing Kara hold Will had to be one of the cutest things I've seen. Yes even more cute than this.
(if you can't tell its a tiny kitten sleeping on the back of my neck)
So let's go back to Philosopher Bueller. Yeah, life does move by pretty fast. I can agree with that. I'm a third of the way through with my Peace Corps service. I'm into my second semester of teaching here in Romania. Babies have been born and are already starting to grow up. My grandparents celebrated 60 years of marriage. Oh and the Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup. Some important things have happened and milestones have been made. But whether or not I'm there, I am creating my own memories of these things thousands of miles away.
Regardless of how far away I am from everyone, in my head this will be as solid of a memory as the first time I held Kara. Sure, life may be moving fast, but this isn't even a matter of me stopping a looking around. This is just life as it happens. There are some things which we can control when it comes to life. But life happening; we can't control it. Sure we can try, we can live our lives in timidity and with trepidation, or we can just live and let life happen around us. Looking around can be great, but life's going to continue going without you. If you don't decide to take your own steps in life and try and go somewhere, you lose out on whatever you can create for yourself.
Looking back now on nearly 10 months, I have no reason to be sad about anything I've missed. Life is just different. And I've come to the realization that you cannot be there for all of those memories you want to be there for. I could have been in the US and still been missing out on important memories I wish I could have been there for. Life back in the US for me is something I cannot control now and its just a matter of me finally stepping back and saying "I'll catch up with you later. But I'll be around from time to time just to check in."
So, as I ended my conversation with my sister, there was another part of Kara being a baby which I was thrown back into remembering; the changing of the diaper. Some new memories don't need to be Skyped.