You Can’t Always Get What You Want…



Sometimes life reveals itself to you in quiet moments.  Nothing really seems to be happening, but in retrospect, a lesson has been learned.  One moment connects to another and together those moments reveal something that when combined, is larger than each moment would reveal individually.

It was a regular Monday.  Kind of regular.  I had considered going back home for the memorial service, but the weather forecast made me change my mind.  I couldn’t be out of the office for two days in a row, not this week, and snow was forecast for the evening.  It just didn’t make sense to drive for four hours in the snow.  I didn’t know my friend’s wife that well.  If I didn’t go, I wouldn’t be missed. I sent flowers and a card.  I had shed my tears.  There was really nothing else of value that I could contribute to such a horrible situation.

I headed to the office.  With the many people who stayed home today for the holiday, traffic was light.  I forgot multiple times that people would be out of the office as I made calls that went unanswered.  As I worked at my desk, I felt a lack of focus.  There were too many things I should be doing, and I found that I couldn’t concentrate on one thing for too long without moving on to something else.

My mind drifted too often to people in my life.  A dear friend of mine had gotten engaged over the weekend.  I found out through Facebook.  At one time years ago, he and I had daily conversation.  He had once been one of my closest friends, now I was out of the loop.  I tried to remember the last time I had seen him or talked to him.  My family had considered him a part of our family, and now I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen him.  I sent him an email genuinely congratulating him and wishing him all the best.

My son, Luke, called to tell me about an Alaskan job fair he was planning to attend next month.  He’ll graduate from college in May, and he is ready for an adventure.  I’m excited for him, and I would look forward to having a reason to visit Alaska.  Still, I couldn’t help but remember my dear, sweet little boy.  Where has time gone?  How has my big-eyed little boy grown into a man ready to strike out into the unknown wilderness of Alaska.  The truth is, he would be teaching in Alaska, so that doesn’t really qualify as an “adventure,” but it is a long way from his life as the little boy who loved wearing overalls and playing in the sandbox in the backyard.

I had lunch with an old friend, another person who was once a daily part of my life but has now drifted away from the center, away from me, and from my life.  We sat comfortably across from each other in a quiet restaurant.  We were like a couple of old people, like people who once shared a major life event, a shared history now long past.  I watched cars passing outside the windows.  The scene before me was unfamiliar.  The buildings and the landscape were not places that held memories or significance.  This was a new place and a new time in my life.  Nothing was significant to me.  Nothing held meaning.  Time changes everything.  What was once an integral, crucial, and important relationship in my life has turned into an acquaintance, someone secondary, someone I don’t really know anymore.  He doesn’t know me, not the me I am now.  It was a flame that burned brightly for a time but extinguished slowly.

When I returned to the office after lunch, I appreciated the fact that this place is becoming familiar.  I felt comforted by the sameness of my office, my desk, and my chair.  Beyond the people who share this place I currently call home, nothing is truly familiar.  Nothing really feels like “home.”  In four months, our lease is up.  Maybe we’ll rent here for another year.  Maybe we’ll buy this house.  Maybe we’ll do something completely different.  Everything is up in the air. Everything is subject to change. Last weekend, T and I talked about our housing situation.  Neither one of us is ready to pull the trigger on anything that feels permanent.  We laughed about it.  We’re not able to make a long term commitment.  For the first time in our lives, we feel a sense of freedom.  We’re mobile….if that’s what we want.  For the first time in our lives, we are Free Spirits.  We could decide to pack in all in and hit the road at any given moment.  That doesn’t mean that we’ll do such a thing, but it is a delicious thing to imagine.  On a snowy night, it’s a wonderful thing to imagine hitting the road for warm sunshine and sandy beaches.  We could do it.  All we’d have to do is pack up our stuff once again.  

Tonight I mopped the kitchen and laundry room floors.  I had put it off all weekend.  That’s OK.  Housework isn’t as important to me as it once was.  I enjoyed having a late Sunday afternoon lunch along with a delicious glass of sangria.  If that means my house doesn’t sparkle, so be it.

I turned on music as I mopped and danced along to the beat.  My family is used to this behavior from me.  When I clean, I dance.  The music was loud, and everyone was singing bits and pieces to the familiar songs.  When I was in the laundry room, the Stones came on.  “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”  My eyes filled with tears.  So many memories rushed back to me.  Years and years ago, when we we were so very young and our firstborn daughter was dying in the hospital, we heard this song dozens of times.  I don’t know why.  I don’t remember if we played purposely, or did the song just happened to come on the radio when we were listening.  “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”  Have truer words ever been written?  Even then, 26 years ago, we knew.  We knew that life wasn’t always going to give us the things we might desire.  We would lose sometimes.  Sometimes we would win. But we knew this…if you try sometimes, you just might find…you get what you need.

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