Wherever you go around Tucson today there are congratulatory signs to University of Arizona grads, whisking me back to my own college graduation.
It’s 1968, and I’m sitting next to my first real boyfriend, among 2,000 plus other College of Liberal Arts and Science grads at the University of Connecticut. Many of us are snoozing (hope I didn’t snore back then!) listening to the U.S. director of the federal budget. What did he tell us? Save your money, buy a house, invest in America — I don’t have a clue.
What I remember about that day is that my mother, who was around the same age as I am now, stumbled off a curb and fell into the street. She was embarrassed, and I’m sure I helped her up, but was I kind enough? She often annoyed me with her complaints, her unspoken regrets, her spoken fears.
Now I wish I could go back, like in “Being Erica,” a Canadian TV series that we’ve been watching. Every episode features a theme from the life of 32-year-old Erica Strange, an editor at a strange publishing company. She returns to an event via unscheduled visits to her therapist Dr. Tom, who magically appears at the appropriate time.
Oh, to have such a therapist! He’s also very wise and sprinkles his advice with meaningful quotes from the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
I’d like to return to my college graduation day. I didn’t understand how my mother could be so awkward. But now I do. Back in the ’90s I broke both my ankles on two separate occasions — one talking and missing a step while trespassing at a Maine summer home and the other not paying attention to ice on the road.
I’ve since lifted weights, walked more mindfully, and exercised more regularly to build muscle. I’ve fallen since but haven’t broken any bones. I’ve taken better care of myself, and wish I could have helped my mother do the same.
I like the idea of returning to amend regrets, erasing hurtful or insensitive comments, or doing something differently — perhaps even taking more risks, which was Erica’s last theme. But not if it took up too much time. Maybe I’d go back if I could choose just three life experiences to correct.
But I still have places to go! Maybe Italy or Turkey, but at least the three states I haven’t yet visited — Hawaii, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
A week from today Dan and I will head out on a two-week road trip to Oregon and the Northern California coast. We’ll probably visit dear friends in Bezerkeley, perhaps spend a day in Yosemite National Park. Better than visiting those elusive inner places? Maybe.