There is a children’s song… “make new friends but keep the old, one is silver, but the other gold” At the beginning of the New Year, I think of memories like that. Cherished old memories are like gold, while shimmery silver new memories are just waiting to be made.
Memories, especially as I get older, make the holiday season more bittersweet, but I’m fine with that. It shifts the focus of the holidays and the New Year to an appreciation for the people and positive events in my life, both past and present. After this season’s reflection, I’ve decided to write a New Year’s “message in a bottle” to one of my cherished memories.
In the 1970’s, I was a live-in au pair to a well-heeled Manhattan couple and their 10-year old daughter, Lauren. I was twenty, attending a well-known secretarial school and taking singing and dancing classes on the side. My goal was to finish secretarial school so that I would have a way of supporting myself while pursuing a career in acting. Naively, I thought I could take on the New York City challenge… “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”.
I had lived close enough to the city to have visited frequently, but I arrived in New York young, sweet and relatively innocent. Not only did I need to work on my acting skills, I needed to develop a tougher, more street wise demeanor.
However, New York had different plans for me. What I learned during my tenure as a nanny was that my softer side was my greater strength.
To this day, I have fond memories of afternoon walks to Carl Schurz Park with my charge, Lauren, and her dog, Christy. This was one of my favorite activities while living in Manhattan.
I also fondly recall the many hours of laughter Lauren and I shared. Discussions centered around her experiences of 5th grade drama and friendship politics and, of course, debates with her mother about fashion choices. (no dresses please!) I think I gave some pretty good advice, but as anyone who has worked with children knows, I also got some pretty good advice about my own life.
After completing my au pair year and secretarial school, I left Manhattan and my acting dreams behind. I moved to another city with a slower pace that was a better match to my personality. My goals and life focus had changed. Indeed, I had learned a lot during my stay in NYC.
I learned, like many twenty-somethings, that if you don’t make it in NYC you can still make it anywhere. More importantly, I learned the value of being true to who you innately are …. perhaps, that’s the goal in this life.
Later in my twenties when I had my own daughter . . . named Lauren. I hoped my own Lauren would the have the same qualities of strength, inquisitiveness and caring as Lauren E., and, of course, she does. Hope so often creates reality.
I lost touch with my au pair family several years after my employment ended. But I have carried hopes and dreams for Lauren E. in my heart for over 30 years. Many thoughts of good wishes have been sent to her through the years. I hope they have added to an already happy life. My young charge is now a grown woman. In this age of social media it might be possible to reconnect, but I am not sure I wish to intrude.
So, instead, I am sending this “message in a bottle” to Lauren E . . . may it find its way to you wherever you may be in this New Year. You, like my own daughter, will stay in my thoughts and prayers forever. I am an unknown cheerleader in your life. I send hope and good wishes that life is well with you! Namaste!
Life is fine,