After I graduated college, I frequently wondered when I would feel like an adult.
…After I got my first real job…nope…no adult-y feelings here.
…I got my first promotion and raise and a contract…nope. Still felt like an over-grown kid. Who was now making almost enough money to afford living in New York City.
…Bought my first apartment…and…eh…Felt a little grown up because of the immense amount of paperwork that was involved in the process…and the number of attorneys that were in the room at the closing, but really, I came home to my own place, and it didn’t feel much different than renting my own apartment. I mean, I could still disrobe on the way to my bedroom from the bathroom, and no one would tell me to cut it out.
…Got pregnant? FELT LIKE A CHILD WHO WANTED TO CRAWL IN BED WITH MY MOM AND DAD AND NEVER LEAVE. No feeling like an adult there. Then I had preterm contractions at 6 months and the doctor broke the news to me that I would have to be on bed rest for at least 2 weeks. After she left the room, my Mom rubbed my cheek while I was laying in the hospital bed at NYU and said, “Honey, are you going to be okay with coming back to Connecticut for a couple weeks, so we can help you?” My response was, “Ummmmm…yea.”
I think it was the only two weeks of my pregnancy that I actually slept well.
…Had a baby and let me tell you, I was waiting for that rush of adult-like feelings. Instead I kept feeling like someone was going to say, “They trusted you with a baby? You need to check with your mom before you do things like leaving the house with her or taking her on a plane.”
I did start to feel a little more grown-up when Ellie was 10 months old and threw up for so long that she began to vomit blood and we ended up in the ER, with her hooked up to IVs and stuff. At that point it dawned on me, that not only could I be a parent, but I actually was doing it.
But it wasn’t until this past weekend, that I felt grown-up.
A close friend of mine from high school was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. At 33-years-old. The age I am. And a wonderful friend of hers organized a benefit luncheon, which many of our high school class attended. I can’t find the appropriate words to capture how great it was getting together with this group of women.
Full disclosure, I went to an all girl high school (kicking and screaming), and frankly, I did not enjoy it so much. The rules about only wearing one hemp necklace at a time (I liked to wear 3), or wearing one set of earrings (I had 3 sets), and the length of our skirts being an issue, and our boxer shirts couldn’t hang out from underneath, and then there is the whole Catholic element that I am still not sure how to process…eh…actually, I am pretty sure I know where I stand on that one. But the institution of the school aside – there were a large number of girls that I attended the school with that I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with. And a large number of them were at this lunch.
And upon all getting together, it felt like our conversations picked up right where they left off the last time we were all together. Some of us are married, some are not, some have kids, some don’t, some of us are living in their hometowns, others have moved away…and…one of us has cancer.
Despite all of the fun we were having, the person that brought us all together is fighting the biggest fight of her life. She recently underwent a double mastectomy (I don’t think I will ever complain about my underwhelming breasts ever again) and starting in December, she will endure 4 months of chemo. That is after she wraps up a round of IVF to harvest her eggs, in order to preserve her fertility. Because chemo at our age usually kicks you into early menopause.
And when she and I were standing there, talking about how she had only been dating her boyfriend a month when she got her diagnosis, along with the next part of her treatment plan – I told her I would come and hang out for a chemo treatment or two, to keep her company, so we can really catch up and I can tell her inappropriate stories (because if all else fails, at least I have my lack of a filter to get us by).
I didn’t want to leave the lunch. I could have hung out with all my friends, all evening long and beyond. But Ellie had been throwing up the night before and I had to make a second trip to The Christmas Tree Shop to get items for her Winter Wonderland birthday party that is just around the corner, so I said my goodbyes, and we all hugged a number of times, the “I love you’s” were genuine and free flowing… and I walked out feeling grown-up.
Although that feeling, doesn’t feel like anything I thought it would.
When I got in the car, closed the door and sat there for a moment and all I could think was, “It is all so fleeting..the good health…the good fortune…the good breasts…none of it is guaranteed. None of it.” And I can only conclude that feeling like a grown-up is finally being mature enough to realize that beautiful and horrible reality.
Yes, the blissful ignorance is gone. Long gone. But in it’s place is a deep, deep appreciation for all that I have.
All that we have.