I’m currently on my rooftop writing. M is sitting across the table from me with a glass of wine and a book that I promised myself I would read to access the inner peace that’s guaranteed by the person who reviewed it on back of the cover. The book has sat on my nightstand for about 2 months, waiting for me. Normally, the fact that M got to it before me would make me crazy with anxiety, but not today. Oddly enough, today, I know I will get to it eventually. I don’t feel a sense of rush. Her time is now. I’m am being graced by other forces. My time will come. One at a time, sticky fingers, one at a time.
I spent the last week of my life with a bunch of kids (my little cousins). They are not just any kids—they are my favorite ones. I know that the minute my little monster (the eldest of the pack) reads this, she’s going to get mad because she hates when I call her a kid, but to me they are just kids. They still view each day as a different day, they don’t connect this long storyline of what they think life will be. They haven’t formed full opinions of themselves. There is still space to learn and create. It’s easier to blow their minds. They don’t live on auto-mode and miss out on chances as often as adults do. They look for joy in each day and they are certain that change is coming. Most of the time, they invite it while managing to indulge in the present. It’s all quite fascinating to me, a Type-A New Yorker, who barely has time to make the bed. Though we like to pretend this takes 40 minutes, this actually takes up about 45 seconds of our time. The jig is up. Make the bed.
As I was saying, the oldest one gets pissed when I say she’s a kid, but little does she know that I’m jealous and it’s a compliment.
Living so far away from home, it’s not often that I get to spend time with family, let alone the younger end of it. So, this trip was special for me and I made it a point to be there for them. I wanted to really talk to them and offer my experiences and support. I think a part of me knew that I needed their care-free outlook on life for mine.
Who knew kids could stay up so late? Who knew I was funny at 2am in the morning? Who knew you could feel hungover from candy? Amazingly enough, I survived the week with them. I’m a little heavier, my digestive system has been severely affected, and I may never eat sugar again, but I made it. I’m here to tell the tale and let you in on some secrets:
Number 1: When you’re telling a non-adult a story, you gotta be brief or they will make a face that will force you to shut up. Adults get bored, too, but we’ve been taught by our professors, interviewers, bosses, and elders to suck it up. For kids, potential boredom is not a maybe, it’s a guarantee. Get your sh*t together. If you have a story, a concern, or a dream, let’s have it. Let’s be simple. Gimme the low, gimme the high. Let’s tackle this now, so I can order my burger and respond to the bb message from my friend.
If you give them a chance, teens will ask the best questions because they are the obvious ones. Their blank stares, as you try to bullshit them, are priceless. Lie to a kid, but please be prepared for the blank stare and the why that will follow. We underestimate them, because we think they won’t understand, but they usually understand the basics. It’s the bullsh*t that gets the blank stare.
And yes, life is more complicated than they know, but what they reminded me is that sometimes we hide behind a lot of adult jargon to avoid the very basic.
You want that, go for it.
He likes you, he’ll call.
You aren’t happy there, move.
This makes you happy, keep doing it.
It’s forbidden and wrong? Is it worth it? How will it make you feel?
Number 2: The second thing they reminded me of is that there are only two things that you should be worrying about.
The first thing is responsibility.
I don’t want to get into trouble. What do I need to do? Is the job done well? Do I feel good? Ok, let’s have fun now. Yes, second is fun. We have to do good work where it’s expected from us. Whether it be from our bosses or from ourselves. Do the work, be proud of the effort, and then, put it all down and go have fun. Kids know what their responsibilities are, but most importantly, they do a very good job of trying to figure out what they like and what they enjoy. Some of just forget and get lost in a bunch of stuff that we don’t like. Kids have higher standards of entertainment.
It kind of just happened, but I applied this all on my own. When I was at work, I was at work. When I decided to go out for a jog, I was really out for a jog. When I was done, I was completely game for having a nice time with them. I was so busy and stretched for time that I knew if I was present at each of these things, they would be less spill over to ruin each of the experiences. I guess I figure that it won’t be long before they stop thinking I’m cool, so I wanted to milk this one and enjoy it while it lasted.
Number 3: The last thing was the most important. I dropped my cousin off at Brown University this weekend and I was so jealous. I wanted to push her into the car as everyone left and write my name on the door sign of her assigned dorm room. I wanted to be there. I wanted to have that chance again, but it’s over. I have other dreams to tackle now and I have other ways to get there. Who said college ever ended? I look around now and semesters still change, people come in and out of my life, just like college. One could easily argue that I still live a college life. My boss is a tough professor and I’m currently in a very hard class that will make me an exceptional candidate one day for the job of my dreams.
Also, I’m living someone’s dream right now. Someone my cousin’s age is looking at me and thinking she made it. She’s in New York, she has an apartment, and she’s writing. To some, these basic points might be enough to say that I made it. At the same time, someone older, who didn’t ever try something they really wanted or never took a huge risk, might be looking at me and thinking she’s doing it. Someone is wishing for my life, but somehow I know that if I saw my life from another point of view, I’d want it.
As I walked out of the room and began to think that I should have enjoyed college more, I realized that this is the very thing that I will be thinking of my 20s someday.
I should have enjoyed it all. I’m going to enjoy this. I don’t want to look back anymore. I want to enjoy it now.
What’s funny is that as I finished typing this post, M signaled me over to take off my headphones. As Mozart left my ears, M jumped into them. “I hope you don’t take this in a weird way. I know you’ve only been back from Boston for 2 days, but… you feel so light,” she said, “as if something huge was lifted from your shoulders.”
I looked at her and I tilted my head, smiled, and I said, “I know.”
I don’t know what it was about the trip. Little disappointments that occurred while gone from New York, an array of care-free moments that surprised me, intimate talks about life, being with family, or being with the kids. Maybe, it was the midnight bike ride with the girls in Boston, but it somehow reminded me of something that no one can ever take away. It reminded me of that feeling when you’re a teen and you start realizing that the world is this fun place that you get to be a part of. A place where anything can happen. A place where great things are coming, but great things are also here, now.
I feel like myself this week. Somewhere between NY and Boston, I lost my long storyline at one of the pit stops we made. I’m no one’s ex girlfriend anymore. I’m not interested in becoming someone’s current. I’m no longer battling the past or pushing for the future. I’m no longer anxious about the professional or financial stresses that I have always taken it upon myself to ponder. The storyline is gone for now. I’m just this girl in a big city with an odd desire to have fun and write it all down.
I don’t know if I can take you back to that age when it was really simple to just be, but give it a try. There comes this idea with being an adult that we’re always on track to becoming, but sometimes we forget to be. We have to BE more. If being is breadcrumbs, becoming is the path that they leave. You can only understand the “becoming” when you look back and see all the things you let yourself experience and live in, but you have to be first.
These kids were the light pieces that I needed to remember the basics.
To remember that it will all get done eventually. There is no rush. We are currently being graced by other forces. One at a time, sticky fingers, one at a time. Just be the thing you want to be today.