by Aurora Bordeaux
Remember how I was recently nervous about attending my university homecoming? Well, turns out I had nothing to fear outside the regular introverted terror of cocktail parties. I was all twisted up about what people might think about me since people at our hoity-toity school were always so dang judgy, but the second we hit the tent I realized everyone there was so busy projecting their own images of awesomeness that no one was thinking about us. It was perfect.
We enjoyed connecting with a few quality friends from the old life, since the gathering drew a handful of people we wouldn’t get to see otherwise. Some of our friends have generated some pretty adorable children, and we enjoyed hanging out with them, too. One of my favorite kids, Cori, could be my tiny doppleganger; I had fun wheeling her around for twenty minutes since everyone assumed she was mine and ooo-ed and aww-ed (plus it gave her mother, one of my all time favorite people, a breather).
Going back to school reminded me that, even as a student, I was always friends with the oldest people in the room. During Homecoming, former professors were the folks I most wanted to sit down and catch up with. I remembered the dining hall staff and they seemed to remember me. All in all, I only really knew a few fellow students at the reunion shindigs since it wasn’t a big gathering year for my class, and that made it easy to focus on Priority One: Eating our prepaid ticket’s worth.
Seeing the expertly manicured campus was also nice, but after the novelty of returning to an old haunt wore off, I began to feel an itchiness to keep moving forward and never look back. Over the last two years of deciding to become officially childfree, changing my name, and moving to a new city, I have learned the value of forward motion. I want to look back where and when it matters, but I can’t get stuck or let the view of the past morph into one seen via rose colored glasses. Guru Aurora says choose to see the good, stop regretting the bad, learn what you can, and move on.
That’s part of why I think I enjoyed my friends’ kids so much. They are completely new people who take you at face value. They also helped us make brand new memories on campus, two of which I will share with you.
April, Age 2, Apparently Knows Who I Am
The Hubs and I spent an entire Saturday morning putting together gifts for the kids, which was harder than I thought because I had to Google “gifts for 2 year olds,” then was horrified by the mostly $80 price tags, then had to Google “CHEAP gifts for 2 year olds.” We ended up with play doh, coloring books, stickers, crayons, and homemade, hand-stamped wrapping paper. Note: Never bother to make special wrapping paper for children. They don’t know how much time it took, and the parents are too tired to notice.
My friend Elise, her sweet husband, and their tiny April make a cute crowd, and I was really happy they’d all found each other. When I handed over the gift to Elise’s little girl, I didn’t get much of a reaction. Then again, April was pretty pooped from long travels to campus. I also had to remind myself that two-year olds aren’t always particularly interested in other people. She mostly just sort of sat there with her mouth open and ignored the Hubs and I, but she liked the stickers.
Later that evening, we bumped into the family again outside Pizza Hut where the Hubs and I were scrounging up a hot meal. We chatted for a bit, and April didn’t make a peep. They moseyed on their way through the increasing cold, and as they strode down the street, April said: “What are Aurora and That Man doing?”
That’s right, folks. She knew my name, but the Hubs just got “That Man.” Aurora for the win!
Introvert in Miniature Screams What We Are All Thinking
My other friend’s four-year-old, Cori, could just as easily be mine based on our mirror image coloring. She is a funny kid and fascinating creature. Cori was born with an innate power and pseudo radioactive energy that, if harnessed properly, could one day turn her into the President of the United States. I am not kidding.
But, being only four, Cori still struggles with limitations including height, a slim vocabulary, and inability to drive a car. After a long night and longer day of reunion hubbub and touring the campus where Mommy and Daddy met, Cori had about enough. It was nippy out, it was getting dark, there were too many people trying to make a big deal about her, and the picnic dinner was stone cold. When she was on the verge of a meltdown, I asked Cori if she wanted to take a walk and she hopped up and grabbed my hand (she turned out to be the Patient Zero in the nasty cold I caught, oh well). We milled around, made chitchat about Halloween costumes near the fire pit, and touched just about everything in the campus book store (hope all future shoppers use their Purel!).
When we circled back to Mom and Dad, Cori hit another wall. She wanted to go back to the hotel, but Mom and Dad were still busy talking. Cori stood her ground, concentrated power brewing behind her crystalline eyes like Storm in X-Men. Then Cori went ka-boom.
Hands shoved deep in her coat pockets, she did an outrageous jig in all directions, looking for all the world like an erratic baby bird trying to flop home. “I have to go back to the hotel now, I just don’t know which way to go!” she wailed.
Amen, Cori. Amen. We followed her instincts to hit the road and drove all the way home that night rather than crash in the creepy campus hotel again. Given that the mattresses were all covered in plastic and it smelled like a dingy retirement facility, we didn’t want to press our luck sleeping there another night. Can ghosts murder people? You won’t find out from me, I’m too smart to give them the chance.