I’m definitely freaked out by this “growing up” thing. Twenty-five and a half?! I can reach forward and touch 30, but I can’t reach back and touch…well I don’t even want to be 20 again, but its scary to think I have never been this old before. I have to check that 25-30 box on all kinds of forms now. Yikes, man.
think about when you were in middle school or high school, or even college…when you looked ahead to “25,” where did you think you would be? What did your life look like? I know for me, I definitely had something different in mind. Something more along the lines of being married and having kids and someone really good-looking and funny taking care of me. And me writing books that made millions of dollars while I was in my bathrobe all day, aside from occasional appearances on Oprah, and premieres of movies based on my novels.
Whatever that hazy, vague vision I had was, being a single person, eeking out a living on “love donation” -type wages as a private, Christian junior high school Latin teacher, sleeping in my 19 year old boy cousin’s room at my aunt’s house, with my grandma still paying my cell phone bill, is a far cry from the exciting, meaningful, and colorful existence I had envisioned for myself.
Its weird to look back and think about what I was thinking about or how I operated as a younger person. Its probably my job, teaching junior high, that really brings the ignorant bliss of youth to light. For example, all my eighth graders, especially, are always saying things like “oh I can’t wait until I graduate!” and I’m thinking, “you mean, go to high school? You’re not graduating from anything important yet! This is MIDDLE SCHOOL!!! If you already want out….I am seriously worried for your future.”
And today I had a conversation that went like:
“I can’t wait until I never have to go to school again, so I never have to do anymore homework.”
To which I responded, “do you know what you have to do when you don’t go to school?”
“YEAH. WORK. Its LAME. Stay in school, kids! Way more good times.”
“but I want to work! You get paid to go to work!”
“because you have to pay BILLS and for LIFE when you’re done with school!”
“……..but it sounds better than homework!”
and I sympathize, because when the hardest your world has ever been is having homework, thats the hardest it can get. Its a limited world view.
Just like today when I taught them that “bovine” is an English derivative of the word “bovis” which means “cow” in Latin, and one of my students said “I have NEVER heard that word “bovine” before in my whole life.” Which, loosely translated from middle-schoolereze means “Miss Weight, I shouldn’t have to take notes on this because if I don’t know about it, it doesnt exist.”
And I had to say “but you are THIRTEEN….do you think it might be possible that there are things in this world that you don’t know yet? Words you haven’t heard? Places you haven’t been? People you haven’t met? And yet they are things worth learning about?”
to which the class very seriously replied “but some of us are FOURTEEN, Miss Weight!”
Another day when my point is utterly missed. I might give an exasperated sigh and roll my eyes at them…but I hug them on the way out the door because I remember being that age, and as my mother can testify, being convinced I knew everything that was worth knowing, and acting like I was smarter than most people. Its makes me cringe, thinking about how my family and adults in my life must have humored my adolescent ignorance…but its so funny to be paying all that back to the world now, in my current place of employment.
In some ways I wish I was that young again, to do some things over again, but with the relative wisdom of today, so that I could do life better.
I hung out with my grandma a few nights ago…she had some friends over for dinner that she has known for 40 something years. We made tacos like my great-grandma makes and slung back Pacificos and they sat around telling stories about all their kids growing up in courts and the grandkids they have today and teased each other’s husbands and lamented their disappearing waistlines and laps and cracked questionably appropriate jokes. They know everything about each other. They almost peed their pants laughing at each other. They’ve been through so much together and love each other more for it.
And I thought about my best friends I have today that I know I will always have…and how we will grow old together and things may change but we will always eat bin candy and hold hands and watch “Friends” and drink too much wine and talk about the college years and retell the same crazy stories to anyone who will or will not listen. And how we will travel together. And how we’ll get to weave our future husbands into the colorful tapestry we have created, and have babies, and try to match them up with each other, so we can reeeally be sisters. How we’ve always been there for each other, how we can be there for each other, still. Always.
This getting older is freaky, but it has some benefits. The things I have in my life that are such blessings, that are so, so good, can only get richer and more meaningful. More beautiful with each passing year.
Until I’m 30.
And then even after then, too.