Wednesday, March 10, 2010


The expression of "growing up too fast" never really applied to me.  Some people talk of kids who want to be older, to emulate others a few grades ahead.  I was not one of those.  My mom always said that I was born forty.  That, and my proportions bordered on the ridiculous.  The first was a product of usually being the only kid around group of adults and having a pretty serious temperament at the time.  The second--well, that couldn't be helped.  Trust me.  I sent up many a twelve year old's prayer to just slow down the development.  There was a rumor in the sixth grade that I stuffed my bra and I so wanted it to be true.  Other than those things, though, I was never in any hurry to grow up.

I was always fairly reflective, particularly at time markers like birthdays, first days of school. Getting a new license, even.  I looked at the picture that was about to be outdated and thought, if you only knew what the next few years will bring.  I thought of the impossible hurdles that the me in the picture was facing and how small they look reflected back in time.  Like anyone, I was always excited about turning 10, 13, 24, but I was also sad that the age I was had come to an end.  I have a vivid memory of the last day of eigth grade, riding the bus home.  The sun was so bright and hot that the plastic on my seat was almost too hot to sit on.  I sat on my algebra book instead, which was about as much use as it ever got.  A hot seat wouldn't normally have been a problem, but I always wore shorts that were just this side of a dress code infraction on the last day of school since no one would notice.  We had a convenient finger tip rule.  Being 5'2'' and not having ape arms, I was able to slide by on the last day, proudly displaying my fingertips a solid 3 to 4 inches above my knee.  Jezebel--I know. Anyway, I remember thinking that it was a big moment.  I was excited about starting high school, but I understood what I was leaving. I knew it the way someone much older than I was knows.  I knew that I would never play again like I had.  I knew that there would be new pressures and that I would handle them, but that some part of me would be left behind on the swingset. I was thrilled to drive, but I'd never again stare out at the stars while being driven home from a dance and think that I was the first to ever feel what I did.

I know this sounds like a lot of meloncholy for a child, and that may be true, but I'm so grateful for it. That has made all the difference.  I definitely experienced the bittersweet before I had the words to describe it, but I also had the incredible blessing of consciousness about the pace of it all at a young age-a sense that it would end and that one day I would have to squint to make the past out clearly.  I tried to freeze the place in my memory so that it wouldn't get lost.  I hoped that later I could thaw it out and bring it back to life, if only in my mind.  The incredible thing is that it's not lost, at least a lot of it.  I remember so, so much of my life that sometimes it feels more like a loop than a chronological line. It's not just recreations from photo albums and stories, but I recall what it felt like to be me at eight.  In some ways, it feels a lot like this.  I know that person looking back at me from my kindergarten picture, even if I can't remember all the details.  Sometimes I think that it's a gift I was given so I can always carry my memories of my dad around in my pocket.  He's been gone almost ten years, but I've never forgotten the sound of my name when he would pick me up for a weekend or the way it felt to float on my back while he held me up in the pool. 

I was always a little scared of change and terrified of the day when crawling into my mom's bed wouldn't give the world a night light's glow.  In the end, all the changes in the world have happened anyway.  It turns out, I like being an adult as much as liked being a kid, and I did like being a kid.  I think that's the point.  If we don't pay attention to how short each phase of our life is, we'll only enjoy it in nostalgia and not in the present.  With the bitter comes the very sweet.  Today I was thinking, in thirty years from now I know I'll look back on this as a sweet time in my life when my marriage was new and we lived on lunchmeat and dreams.  I'll smile when I think about how young our parents were and how I thought my shoes were timeless.  I'll think about the luxury of sleeping late and not having to worry about anyone but ourselves.  I'll see everything that I am now through the lens of all the things that are about to happen to me.  I'll want to comfort my current self and say, enjoy it, it's a lovely time.  If the unexamined life is not worth living, then I hope that the overly examined one will prove rich and rewarding.


  1. My heart swells with love and wonder. MOM

  2. This brought me to tears. You are one hell of a writer!