Friday, April 1, 2011

One of Us Had to Be the First

Baby Henry, image credit: Cassie Rosenbrock

Two months ago, my best friend in the entire world had a baby.  I've known her since the 6th grade, and we've been best friends since we were 15.  Now, at almost 25, she's the first of any of my close friends to actually start a family.

Cassie married her high school sweetheart, Matt, when she was 20-years-old—too young to even [legally] drink at her own wedding!  We knew she'd settle down before any of us.  At 18, we used to discuss what we saw ourselves doing in the future, and even though Cassie talked about her dreams of acting and becoming a comedian, she knew that Matt would always be the most important aspect of her life; nothing else mattered if he wasn't part of it.

To my stupid, never-had-a-relationship-before brain, this sounded downright crazy-pants.

In high school (and for the first part of college) I remember being extremely ambitious.  Lazy, oh my gosh yes, but also a total dreamer with extremely lofty goals of fortune and success and notoriety as a writer or theatre director or critic... something really special.  Something that would take me to New York or Europe or (ha!) Seattle!  I thought about it, and thought about it, and thought about it, and thought about it... and thought about it, until I fell into a dark hole of thinking until I forgot what the point of it all was.  I don't mean to imply that I don't still think about these things, but when I was a teenager, it was hard to imagine wanting anything close to what my parents had: something traditional, something expected, something that focused entirely on family—not dreams.  Dreams were something you gave up in order to have a family and provide for them.  (This isn't something I was taught, mind you, it was simply how my feeble brain viewed things.)

Kim with Henry on March 5, 2011
And then my entire perspective started changing, due in large part to Cassie and Matt.  There was something about watching their relationship grow, being there to see them start their marriage, buying a house, and then start planning for (and subsequently making) a family—all while Matt goes to school for his Masters and Cassie does improv for ComedySportz San Jose—that made me think, Hey!  That doesn't seem too bad at all!

Before I go on, I have to say that I know what you're thinking, and no—I do not want marriage or babies at any point in the near future.  On the contrary; two dogs and a cat are tiring enough.  Cassie and Matt's effect on me is a little less obvious than that—gimme some credit, peeps.

Henry was born February 2nd, and it completely changed my perspective on things.  To be fair, little things have been changing me slowly over the past year, but when Henry arrived... I finally got it.

See, I've been out of college for almost three years now; I have friends graduating from Master's programs already!  The transition into "real life" has been difficult, emotional, and sometimes impossible.  Because of the challenges, I've spent two out of the last three years wishing I was somewhere (and, often, someone) I wasn't.

Maybe my recently-graduated friends can relate.  It's really frustrating to think about how carefree college was (granted, in college we thought the same thing about high school—or at least I did!), and how nice it would be to just... slow down again.  Do it all over again.  Try something different, and this time not waste the opportunity.

Making friends is hard outside of school. (This is even more so true in Seattle—the "chill" is real, people!)  Finding a job that you really love, and that fits with your ideals and expectations, seems like the most insurmountable task.  Finding love, for so many, is a constant struggle.  So many things can go terribly and horribly wrong—financially, emotionally, mentally—very, very quickly.

Simply put: growing up is flat-out-effin hard to do.

New mom Cassie
New dad Matt

This is where Cassie and Matt come in.  About a month ago I went home and met Henry (and saw my best friends as parents) for the first time.  Things were calm and normal and simple, with the addition of baby gurgles and smiles, lots of poopings and lots of feedings.  And even though I couldn't stop saying things like "He isn't real!" and "I can't believe you actually made this!" and "He was once in there!" *points to Cassie's belly*, the truth is... it wasn't weird.  Not at all.  On the contrary, it felt so totally and completely right.

I finally understand what Cassie meant when she was 18 and how—despite her own struggles and frustrations—things seemed so clear for her.  Looking at Jon's and my life with him, I feel confident in saying that he is what matters to me, and no other ambitions or dreams are worth anything if he isn't there to share them with me.  We have an extremely bright future ahead of us, with so many unknown obstacles and grand possibilities.

And I want to spend it near the people I love who are living their own futures now, and have no interest in reliving the past.  People who don't live in regret, and who are grateful for the people they love and choose to share their lives with.  People like Cassie and Matt.

Someday Henry will going off to college, and it excites me to think about where I'll be and what my life will look like when he does.

The future, all of a sudden, doesn't seem so scary anymore.

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