I am not surprised to hear full grown women admit to only feeling like they are still twelve years old. Living for years outside of our parents’ houses, building careers, paying taxes, wading through schools of fish in that sea of love, buying property …. and still feeling a bit … twelve.
|Rachel and Kate, chatting about still feeling “twelve” and other girly topics over tea. RZProject S3-5|
When I first moved away from home half way across the world, I was already twenty six years old. I rationalized it was the perfect age for me to head to San Francisco because I was old enough to make big changes, and still young enough to change things again if it didn’t work out. At that point in my life, I had been working for a few years after college, experienced being truly in love, experienced betrayal, was the guardian of four preteens for a summer overseas, and managed to determine with the help of supportive friends and my dear parents, what it was I needed to do to spread my wings and fly the coop.
During my first months of “independence,” (though admittedly still on my father’s dime…) I did not stay out all night at boisterous clubs meeting random dudes. Sex and the City was fun to watch, but never a lifestyle for me – I am waaaayyy to conservative. I did not hit route 66 with a full tank of gas, and a few dollars in my pocket. Even if I were not afraid to drive, I still would need to have everything preplanned before I went anywhere. I did not head to the international airport and choose a destination at the ticket counter with my eyes closed. For me, transcontinental travel is a romantic adventure I would want to experience with the man I love. I did not experiment with substances that would blow my mind. My mind’s pretty crazy/ active as it is already. No… I didn’t do anything like that.
With this new found adult freedom, I ate ice cream for dinner and powdered donettes at midnight. I stopped making my bed, and watched Martha Stewart Living all morning in my pj’s. I never put away my laundry, just piled clean clothes everywhere or jammed them into drawers if boyfriend (now husband) were on his way over. When not at work, I would sit and draw or write in my journal and go for lone picnics on a park bench and watch boats as they docked. I would chat with girlfriends every day over the phone or yahoo messenger discussing things happening in our lives that would make us giddy, excited, and at times, shocked! I would prepare bowls of Corn Chex for lunch, and Gingermen for my snack. What kind of independent grown up was I? (Almost) Thirty going on thirteen? Oh my gosh, could it be? Was I a woman- child? Am I STILL a woman child?
|Jerry Seinfeld: not the world’s only adult child with a kid cereal buffet.|
Today I have replaced ice cream dinners with very adult and ‘balanced’ veggies with grains, and lunch is more fish and lentils than processed cereal with milk. I still love Gingermen, and I still squeal and giggle when telling stories with girlfriends. But I have to think twice before considering a seat in the emergency exit row on a flight because I wonder if I am old enough to take on that responsibility. I am now married and have relationships with extended relatives whose names I’m still learning on two sides of the family. I have lost my father to illness and worry about my aging, yet vibrant mother. I have to watch my weight and take fish oil tablets like my parents used to. The salesmen refer to me as “ma’am” when I shop, even though I dress in clothes from Anthropologie, not Ann Taylor. I contemplate whether I should put more into emergency savings or into our mortgage. I have definitely grown up since then, but why do I still feel much more preteen than pre pre premenopausal?
Maybe I don’t feel like a legitimate adult because the current thirty-something me is not yet the adult the thirteen year old me thought I would be. The truth of the matter is, no matter how many years pass you by, and whether those years include life altering events, too little excitement, or a bit too much mindlessness, you are always going to act and feel like who you are today, not who you think you should be by now.
A longtime friend called from the hospital to announce the birth of his son, “Can you believe it? I have TWO kids. But I am still the same me– just now with children.” I often think of that conversation that took place nearly ten years ago, remembering how he reassured me that we are who we are even when there are significant add ons that happen along the way. The thirteen year old me, even the twelve year old me, still lives deep inside here. She is still who I am, and I think that is a lucky thing. I am literally just realizing this as I type.
I may not feel like an adult, but I do feel like me. That, perhaps, is a very grown up thing indeed.