Never Mind

I sift through piles of hard plastic cases, many of the names and titles long forgotten, after nine years in my attic.

“What are those Mama?” My daughter asks.

“Music,” I say. There must have been hundreds of CD’s spread out in front of me, all listened to, all loved, at one time, back when buying music was a commitment and not a whim we acted upon while playing on our laptops or phones.  It was the pre-download era, a time when you didn’t buy songs but you bought albums.

Every title I scanned in that pile was more than an album, but a memory. The Go Go’s, U2, Peter Gabriel, Morphine, they were long car rides and break ups and all night study sessions and make out sessions and long discussions on the telephone until 1:00 in the morning, when people didn’t text but still talked.

Then, it catches my attention, my thumb smudging away the cover dust that makes the baby and the water look blurry.

A nude male infant swimming in blue tinted water toward a dollar bill which is attached to a string.

There was a time, in the 90’s that my Doc Martens were more than a prop on my blog header.   They were my uniform, my way of life, along with my flannel shirt and ripped jeans and the matching soundtrack to go with them, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains.  And while Nirvana wasn’t necessarily my favorite of the grunge bands, they were a part of the message. They were the message.   Anti-establishment, desire for freedom, not really giving a you-know-what about what anybody else thought.

I often wonder what would have happened had Kurt Cobain made the other choice. And as I sit there, sorting CD’s that I plan to sell at my moving sale the next morning, I begin to wonder what would happen had I made the other choice.

My youngest would go to our neighborhood kindergarten in the fall.

My daughter would continue on the competitive cheer squad.

My son would have another summer at the town pool with his best friend.

I would continue the part time job I found where I can work around school hours.

I’d have the support of my mother, only thirty minutes away.

Yet, instead of visits with my mom, we will have skype calls.

Instead of cheer, my girl will surf.

Instead of a pool, my boy will play in the ocean.

Instead of going to an office, I may try making a go of working for myself.

I pull Nevermind out of the sell pile. Even if I never listen to it again, I wasn’t quite ready to part with it, for it reminds me not so much of Cobain or his ultimate choice, but of a time in my life when I thought that anything was possible. It reminds me of a young woman who was open to learning new things and taking chances and not worrying that much about the future.

It reminds me that we all have choices, more choices than we sometimes allow ourselves to realize.  Freedom can be scary.  I’ve often talked myself out of things with an, “I can’t do that,” accompanied by well rationalized excuses.

It reminds me that one day I will look back on this moment as a memory, and every moment as a memory, and that when I do, I want to know that I stayed true to that girl in the Doc Martens, barring a few detours along the way.

Despite those big funky boots and loud music, she was wiser than I gave her credit for.

What did you do when you came to your last fork in the road?

What do you think your life would have looked like if you had made the other choice?

Were you as in love with all of those bands from Seattle as I was?

 Linking up with Alison and Galit for Memories Captured.  I’m so glad it’s back!



Never Mind — 63 Comments

  1. Charting the unknown, the new, opening a new chapter – they’re all points from which one grows. It will be scary and awesome. You will rock your new place, as will your children. New memories will be made, and they will be lovely.

    Thank you for linking up with us!
    Alison recently posted…Memories Captured: We’re Back!My Profile

    • I was so happy to link up with you – and by your next link up, just think, I will be able to write about my new memories from my new home. <3

  2. So funny – my husband recently rediscovered Nevermind too and was listening to it the other day. I love that you’re drawing inspiration from the girl with the Doc Martens. I’ve now doubt that she, and you, are incredibly wise.
    Tricia recently posted…One of those memoriesMy Profile

    • I pulled all my grunge out of the attic! It was awesome! Most of it’s on my iTunes now, but there was something about holding that case in my hand again. And thank you, as always, for all of your kind words.

    • Isn’t it amazing how we can “change everything” and I think most of us are aware of those moments when we do. Freedom is so scary, but it’s definitely better than the alternative!

    • I love the idea of new doors opening! I think those doors can open anywhere, but they seem to be fast and furious once we make a big life change like this one.

    • Do you know that I pulled Beauty and the Beat out of the pile? I couldn’t sell that one either! It’s just too classic.

  3. I wish you nothing but the best and know you will be just fine. You are an amazing mother and person. I love reading your blogs and I never comment but decided to this time. Amazing things are ahead of you. Take care of yourself and those kiddies.

    • Your comment is making my day. Thank you for reading and for being such a wonder in my real life as well…and for your encouragement, now and always. xo

    • And I know without a doubt that your gut will lead you in the right direction! Best wishes with it – and thank you for your kind words!

  4. You know it – as in love with the bands..grunge..flannel shirts..etc. I still have yet to own a pair of Doc Martens (Docs, as we called them). Maybe one day I can fulfill that dream? I was very young when Kurt passed away but I wonder the same even now – what would life look like with him here? Or his family’s life really? I’ve had some forks in the road that I seriously could have gone either way. I was once in love with two guys – a sorta unfair overlap. I don’t dwell but I almost think of it like a really great plot for a movie – had I chosen the other route and what my life would look like. Even better if I had chosen this route only in a dream, and I’d wake up in bed with someone else, in a different state, and Scarlet and Des and Cassidy were only a dream! Yikes! (where am I going with this..?)
    Tamara recently posted…Break It Down Again.My Profile

    • Wasn’t there a movie like this with Tea Leoni? My gosh! What was that name of it? Yes, I’d say being in love with two guys is movie material. As far as the Docs go, I rarely wear mine anymore – maybe the last time was for the photo shoot for the blog! But…they are something else I can’t quite part with…yet.

  5. I think about it sometimes- how different my life would be if I had chosen *this* instead of *that.* But then I realize it is what is is.

    I’m excited for your family’s new adventure and can’t wait to hear all about it!
    Shell recently posted…ABC Old School BloggingMy Profile

    • I think every choice is the right choice because it is ultimately the choice we have made, but sometimes…it’s fun to play “what if..” And yes, I can’t wait to share about this new thing I’m gonna be doing!

    • Thank you my friend. I feel so blessed to have these choices – and blessed that I was able to make the most of my choices. And it’s even more of a blessing, like you said, when you know you are doing the right thing.

  6. I love love love this post Ilene! yes, I was totally into the grunge bands. Oh, the choices I wanted to make and didn’t… places I wanted to go, things I wanted to see. love I wanted to have. But I suppose it all brings us to where we are and who we are, and I’m not sure I would change it if I could.
    Alexa recently posted…18 MonthsMy Profile

    • I love that you were into the grunge bands too! My gosh, they were the soundtrack to a good decade of my life! And yes, I agree with you. I sometimes think back to all of the things I wanted but didn’t do for various reasons. In the end, they weren’t mine to do, and I hear you – I’m not sure I would change the past either.

  7. So interesting to think about the ways things might be different had we chosen the other way. I think there is wisdom in our past – maybe that is why I have always been drawn to history. How wonderful that the girl in the Docs reminded you – I think she is wise – as are you. 🙂
    Kim recently posted…Going Forward, BackwardsMy Profile

    • There is so much wisdom in our past – wisdom from the choices we made as well as the choices we didn’t make. That girl in the docs worried half as much as I do – and most of my worries are for no reason. I think it’s time I listen to her for a change!

    • Almost nothing is scarier than freedom, right? There is so much responsibility in making choices – but I am learning, albeit slowly, that there are very few wrong choices. And hugs right back at you Mary. Thanks for your kind words, as always. xo

  8. I confess – I never got into grunge. Pearl Jam’s most recent has been the only one I’ve enjoyed even a little, and I didn’t like Nirvana at all. But I have a veritable vault of CDs I’ll only part with unwillingly. My excuse is the need to convert them all still and unwillingness to spend money again for something already owned. The truth is I love those fuckers like my daughter loves her stuffed animals.
    Jester Queen recently posted…High Noon In the ParkMy Profile

    • I love my music too! There are a ton of CD’s that I refuse to sell or give away at the garage sale – and somewhere deep in my attic is my VINYL. I will NEVER part with my vinyl. Ever!

  9. Gosh, you really brought up a lot of 90s nostalgia for me with this post! It makes me think about how there aren’t really any “safe” choices anyway. We can’t let fear stop us from doing things. Memories come from really living- from a place of guts and authenticity and being “all in.” I guess that’s being fierce. So nice work!

    • I love how you put this – memories come from a place of really living – from a place of guts and authenticity. It’s no accident then that my favorite memories are the times that I’ve made the choice that leads me out of routine – even with my kids. And I love what you say about being “all in.” Just going with things versus standing in the moment and second guessing.

  10. Oh, boy. Well, I think we’ve talked about this. The decision to leave my last job. HUGE. And honestly, I’m not sure … I might be less happy, I might have been OK … it’s hard to say. My life would have looked different, I’m sure. My daughter wouldn’t have spent these last two years with me. And I guess even if I’ve been distracted, at least I’ve been there a lot of the time. Now, the going back. Another fork in the road. I like the one in the Muppet Movie better … it was a lot easier to see, and a lot easier to decide what to do, knowing the outcome. No looking back.
    Justine recently posted…NaBloPoMo: Breaking the FastMy Profile

    • I really do believe we end up where we’re supposed to. I second guess some things from my past as well, especially with jobs, but I am a different person inside now than I was then, and I think that even if I had made other choices, I would not have been the “me” that I am now making them. Nor would you be the “you” that you are now. Wishing you much success in your new venture. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!
      Ilene recently posted…This Is 43My Profile

  11. I used to listen to some of Nirvana back then too but love U2 with all my being lol.
    “Freedom can be scary.” that’s so true and that’s really describe how I feel right now. Stay brave and curious. Sending you lots of good wishes.
    Maureen | Scoops of Joy recently posted…I Am Not FineMy Profile

    • I love U2 as well! I have countless stories about my sleeping out for concert tickets when I was a kid! I will have to blog about that some day! I love your sentiment for me to stay brave and curious. Just love. What a wonderful way to be!

    • I bet you were way cool – you were just into your own thing! I don’t think I could ever give up that CD. It’s amazing what music – or even the thought of music – evokes in us.

  12. And you will look back at this moment and always know that you gave it everything you had… and that was enough. You will reflect on all the emotion and concrete decisions you made to further your journey into the dream and the hope of the unknown. You will remember that although you were picking pieces of your life up to put back together, you chose the right ones to fit the perfect puzzle for your life. And in time, you will look at the image you created and know for certain, that all the ‘what ifs’ wouldn’t change who you are… and quite frankly, that’s really all that matters.

    You may not be wearing those boots, but you surely have their picture right up there connected with your title. You haven’t lost any part of you… just shifted it a bit to make room for more. 🙂
    Chris Carter recently posted…Devotional Diaries: Hope… Jeremiah 29:11My Profile

    • Have I told you in the past two hours or so how much I love you? “And in time, you will look at the image you created and know for certain, that all the ‘what ifs’ wouldn’t change who you are… and quite frankly, that’s really all that matters.” THIS. Yes. THIS. xo

  13. Oh, Ilene, we would have been best friends in high school. I was such the alternative grunge girl.

    I don’t want to think about what would have happened if I made the other choice. My life wouldn’t be nearly as awesome.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about your new adventure. You are going to rock it like that badass girl in Doc Martens. 🙂
    another jennifer recently posted…Pinterest-Inspired DIY Recycled Bird Feeder. Sort of.My Profile

    • Oh, Jen! That is so awesome! I would have loved to have been your best friend in high school! We could have traded off flannel shirts and listened to Pearl Jam together! I am glad that you have such certainty and clarity on making the right choices. And I can’t wait to share my stories and adventures. It’s coming up faster than I could have imagined it would!

  14. I wish you all the best! I’m also in uncharted territory, in terms of my career and what my future will hold on many levels. It’s liberating and sometimes scary. You captured that perfectly. And, by the way, I wish I had kept more of my flannel. I had drawers full of the stuff.
    Jessica Smock recently posted…The Magic of TwoMy Profile

    • It is liberating to be in unchartered territory! A little over a year ago, I never would have imagined that I was about to embark on what I am about to do. I guess when we are open to new things, new things appear. and I hope that new and wonderful and unimaginable things appear for you as well. And I wish I had kept more of my flannel too!

  15. Beautiful post, Ilene! I love how music can evoke such power feelings.

    Sometimes it’s interesting to imagine how my life would be different even if I had made one small decision in my past. Or maybe it wouldn’t have been all that different and I still would have ended up where I am, albeit on a slightly different path. Best of luck with this new path!
    Bev @ Linkouture recently posted…Right Before My Very EyesMy Profile

    • I love what Christine said above about our decisions maybe taking us in different directions but not changing who we are. I think in the end, we all wind up where we’re supposed to, and that’s comforting. And music, yes! So powerful!

  16. I have a big heavy dark brown pair of LLBean work boots that I used to wear everywhere. With dress and shorts. They were my statement. ha. The now sit just outside our back door covered in mud and wet from yesterday’s downpours. They are my trusted garden boots now and I love them for it. You’ll love the South. You’ll love the ocean (I am so jealous.) That’s my dream to have a cottage by the shore. And I so wish I was there to buy some of those CDs. 🙂
    jamie@southmainmuse recently posted…Why was I holding a spoon? And other ways to unwind.My Profile

    • Oh, I love how you had “statement boots” too! I love my Docs- but I’m not quite ready to give them away yet even though I don’t wear them anymore. For now, they will sit with the Nirvana CD. I feel so very lucky to get live by the ocean. The sound alone is enough to make me happy. And if you were here, I would give you any CD you wanted at no charge!

  17. Oh those bands and songs bring back so many memories for me. I think that you might be the only other person outside of my high school who I know listened to Morphine. I actually found a mix tape with many of these bands on it and listened to it in the car the other weekend. It was kind of great. But you are facing a big fork in the road and while it’s scary, I think that it’s going to be a really exciting chapter for you. I often think about the what ifs but recently I realized that I needed and wanted to let that go. It wasn’t serving me and it was holding me to the past rather than letting me move forward. xox

    • I loved Morphine! And all of that grunge music. And I still love it! I agree that the what ifs keep us back. And I am truly excited about what’s to come. A trusted friend said something to me the other day that I loved, about my upcoming move. She said that she didn’t see this move as my “running away’ (because I’ve asked myself this question) but rather as a “running to.” Let’s hear it for running to something greater!

  18. The boys and I just finished touring Seattle and visiting some of the stomping grounds of those bands and I learned a TON about the history of that time period in music. It’s amazing how the ideas of a bunch of kids in the Pacific Northwest completely changed music history. Made me realize the power of an idea, of a dream. Great post!
    Kimberly recently posted…Memories Captured: Teenage editionMy Profile

    • I love how you were reminded of the power of a dream during your trip to Seattle. It’s so true. You never know where an idea will take you, or take the world, for that matter!

  19. Wow you really took me down memory lane…every band you mentioned were ones I listened too. Isn’t it amazing how time can change us? Back then we had no fear literally with our “No Fear” shirts (remember those?) and had a world of possibilities. Then as we age it seems we become more fearful and less risky. But you sound like you are finding some of your older self 🙂
    Natalie recently posted…This Little Guy…My Profile

    • I would do almost anything to avoid risk! But maybe these days not so much! And wow, those No Fear shirts – of course I remember them! And those bands were the best. I’m glad you were listening too.

  20. “Nevermind”-how fitting. I miss the 90’s. When did I get so old? We have all of those CDs here too. They have dust on them and haven’t been played in years.

    Your new journey is the beginning of something amazing. It’s going to be wonderful! “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)
    Adrienne recently posted…Memories CapturedMy Profile

  21. Yes, I was in love with all those bands. Still am – they are the heart of my iHeart radio. But I think we always do that “what ifs” and wonder where we would be had we made the other choice. Heck,I live with that question daily.

    One thing I do know is that I am trying to live now so that I do not prompt the “what if” question…and awesome that your girl will be surfing – there is just something therapeutic about the water and riding the waves
    Krystal recently posted…Potty faux pasMy Profile

    • Nothing at all beats riding the waves. Nothing! And I agree. Let’s hear it for living a life where we never have to ask what if!

  22. Nirvana and Pearl Jam remind me SO much of my freshmen year in college because that was the year Kurt Cobain died and the year I saw Pearl Jam in concert. I also really liked STP. And I still have the really awesome zippered Docs that my hubby gave me in 1996.

    Thanks for the memories… 😉

    And change is hard for me so I’ve tried not to have to many “fork in the road” moments but when I have, they’ve really paid off.
    Elaine A. recently posted…More Scenes from New Orleans!My Profile

    • I am so glad to hear that your fork in the road moments have paid off. Change is hard but I think we always know when it’s right.

      You have zippered Docs? I am so jealous!

  23. I enjoy all types of music but can’t say the Seattle bands were on the top of my list. Oddly now that I’m older I’m almost to the point to take the risks that I really should have taken at 20. But I guess a lot of us are like that. 😉
    Carli recently posted…Real Into Reads No. 17My Profile

    • Carli, I am right there with you, about to take the risks that I should have taken 20 years ago. I guess that our path is our path, and it always circles back to us, relentlessly, until we answer the call.

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