The Next Ten Lifetimes
by Jane Moneypenny
“You left and reinvented yourself.”
I haven’t been back to St. Louis in two years. Three years ago, I left this fair city because I knew it was time to change my life for one that was emotionally and physically healthier. I didn’t realize how much I had changed until I sat down with old girlfriends to catch up at dinner.
As they rambled on about their houses, marriages and plans for children, I could only nod politely and smile. Had we grown apart that much? Had I changed that much? My life is now filled with constant activities, traveling and living a life that I should have had in my early 20s and somewhere in the last three years, I veered off from the path that would have probably kept me along next to them.
Coming back to the Midwest has been more emotional than I ever thought possible. While sitting under a beautiful breezy sky on a sprawling farmland in Galena, IL, I looked at my friend of 10 years getting married and my heart ached. I watched him cry as his bride walked up and my eyes filled up. I wish I could say it was due to the emotion of the moment: happiness for him (which I am, of course), the beauty of love, the joy of a wedding, but in all honesty, it was sadness. Sadness that time has zipped by so fast and we’re in our last 20s now, watching our friends get married and start another life. Sadness of losing that innocence when everything was available and time was nothing there but to waste. In the moment as I watched him say his vows, I missed college for the first time in 6 years. I felt selfish; I wanted to bring them back to my side and pretend we were 18 and 25lbs lighter.
It was a beautiful wedding, but we were all sad we barely spent time with him. In a giant wedding that was mostly for her family, he seemed lost and wishing he could sit next to us and croon boy band songs like we used to. Their first dance, “The Next 10 Minutes” is one our little group discovered together years ago from the play, “The Last Five Years.” He taps his wedding finger on his glass bottle and laughs to himself at the newness of the sound. “For the next ten lifetimes,” he blushes as he shows us the inscription.
I know I made the right choice to leave. No matter how much I tried imagining moving back to St. Louis, I couldn’t see it. But I wonder if I’ll ever stop feeling sadness at the loss of friends as they start new lives. Or worry that I’m not on the path I’m supposed to be on eventually.
Will you share your life with me
For the next ten minutes?
For the next ten minutes
We can handle that
We could watch the waves
We could watch the sky
Or just sit and wait
As the time ticks by
And if we make it till then
Can I ask you again
For another ten?
-“The Next Ten Minutes,” The Last Five Years”