Monday, January 07, 2008

The Simple Life

One of the things about growing up in a small town is that you know EVERYONE. When you leave that small town and then come back for an extended stay, you're almost certain to run into someone that you know and haven't seen in forever, at the grocery store, getting gas, whatever. I'm usually pleasantly surprised by these run-ins and enjoy the chance of catching up with people.

One day during vacation, I met my friend Jenny and we had lunch at the freeze (where we worked in high school--formally a "tastee freeze" of "a little ditty 'bout Jack and Diane" fame). I ran into the equivalent of my high school sweetheart. It had been about 18 months since I had last seen him, about 3 years since the drama of the high school reunion.

The times that I've run into this boy I am always reminded of the life that I could have possibly had, bittersweet in its' simplicity. We would have hung out the summer before our freshmen years of college. We would have dated throughout our college carreers (his a two, mine four). And like every country song ever written, we would have gotten married, bought some land and settled down.

Obviously, my life hasn't turned out to be quite that simple. However, the beauty of the complications makes my life more full than I could have imagined at 18. Had I followed that path, I never would have met my college friends, or the high schoolers and middle schoolers that I work with, or my friends here. I never would have learned what it meant to live on my own, to have a chance to get to know myself.

This life is infinitely more complicated and infinitely more beautiful and I am thankful for that.