“How old are you?” I asked, excitedly and impulsively. Only realizing my mistake after I said it. (I was raised to never ask a woman her age!)
She smirked, “guess.”
“1,000” I answered, facetiously. Hoping it would overcorrect what I had done.
“Close but guess again.”
She wanted a real guess, I guess. “Umm… 28.” (I didn’t believe that, but I knew to guess low.)
“Warmer..” she replied, playfully.
I just stared at her, not wanting to guess 30. I knew better than that. I shrugged.
“34.” She relented.
34? My brain couldn’t handle it. “34? You are literally twice my age.”
She laughed and our conversation stopped, but my brain didn’t. 34? 34 and still at Ozone House? What would I be doing at 34?
At 17, I had a plan. I knew where I wanted to be and where I was going. By 34, I knew that I would be a mom of six, a stay-at-home to someone with a solid career, and living far, far away from here (location yet to be known.) I couldn’t imagine being 34 when I was 17, but I knew it was inevitable. So, I might as well start planning.
That’s the thing about plans. They’re just that – they’re not a guarantee and often mistaken for a dream. You can work towards them intentionally but something else gets in the way. So, if you’re lucky, you change them, improve them, and keep moving.
17 years ago, I was completely off the mark. About a fraction of what I assumed would happen to me by 34 has actually happened. I didn’t have six kids (and maybe dodged a bullet there), I have my own career (and love working), and I am still here.
And I’m glad I’ve stayed. I’m glad that in 17 years, I have never really left this place. Being part of this journey has demonstrated the changes over the years. Being a Townie and living at Ozone has always been hard for me to admit. I’ve always felt that town was against me. Yet, being at the new building on January 16, surrounded by people who were excited and supported our plan. We were lucky that our dream could intentionally be worked towards as a plan. Yes, we had change them a bit, and yes, we kept moving. We were fortunate to find people who were willing to move and bend with us. To help us overcome our biggest hurdles and help us not sweat the small stuff (as I was told not to do.) As I gaze out across the new kitchen and out towards the long hall of room, I can only dream and imagine there will be another 17-year-old planning her life in 17 years. And I hope it includes us.