Friday, May 10, 2013

Reality Bites (or So I Hear)

When my grandmother passed away rather suddenly in March, I told myself that I would sit down and write a blog post about her. Even though my audience isn’t very large, I thought it would be cathartic to put some words down about her so the memories and feelings I have would be digital, and somewhat ‘ever-lasting.’

But I kept putting it off. I couldn’t get myself to sit down and write about my Bubby and what she meant to me and, most importantly, how much she taught – and is still teaching – me. And I think the reason I keep putting this blog entry off is that I kind of don’t accept the fact that she’s gone.

I’ve often tried to explain what it’s like living here in DC to other people by telling them about our delayed reality. Life in this area just is NOT like the rest of the world, or even like the world half an hour’s drive away. We work hard at relatively high-paying jobs and then we take our disposable income and play even harder. I can’t imagine that you’d find a lot of 32 year olds playing kickball on a Tuesday night in Omaha, then wandering to a bar to get plastered over a game of beer pong. While everyone here has at least two friends from ‘back home’ who got married at 24, the women I work with all get married between the ages of 30 and 36.  Then they have their first child, while our hometown pals are taking six-year-olds to recitals or soccer practice. I’ve so assimilated to the area that having a kid before turning 30 seems like such a crazy thing to do (irrespective of the fact that a lot would have to happen VERY quickly for it to be in the realm of possibility for me) and I am amazed that anyone in their early 20s could possibly take care of a baby. Because these delayed life milestones are the norm for our society, they appear to be THE norm. The DC Metro area is our own little bubble, and we only have to believe the truths that are right in front of our faces. It's everyone outside that appears skewed. We are a city of people who watch polls and don't understand their results because we aren't familiar with people who aren't exactly like us. 

Trying to come to terms with my Bubby’s death has shown me another component of this delayed reality: while my family all lives within a 4- to 75-minute drive from each other, I’m a three hour train ride away and don’t see anyone with real frequency. I would see my grandmother every time I came back to my hometown – so about every 6 weeks – but didn’t call very often. So, I have seen my Bubby exactly as many times since her memorial service as I would if she were alive today. I haven’t accepted the reality of her death because, like a true DC-denizen, I just don’t have to.

I am on my way home for the first time since I was there for her memorial – it’s Mother’s Day weekend and my nephew’s first birthday. It wasn’t until tonight on the train that I realized: this might be hard. These might be difficult milestones to get through, for my mother and my aunts even if it isn’t for me. And while I don’t want to be sad this weekend, and both of these occasions deserve to be properly celebrated, it would be nice to get a strong dose of reality. Then, hopefully, I will be able to tell you about what an amazing woman my Bubby was. 


Adam said...

I'm interested to see what perspective this past weekend has put you in. But I hope you were able to celebrate and get some closure at the same time.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of your "DC culture" is actually "coastal urban culture." Obviously not all the polling, but the delay of baby-making and all that jazz. As far as coming to terms with your grandmother's death... it is hard. I still can't bear to erase my grandmother's email address from my address book when I clean it out and it has been YEARS. So...I feel your pain?

Love you lots,