Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.

31 Mar

We become what we least wish.

Scanning through photos from other places, people I knew in a time I can hardly remember now. They’ve all grown-mostly rounder, as I have, some balder, some with more tension around the eyes. Some carry obvious signs of bad marriages, sick children, secrets. Little over 10 years have passed by, and we’re caricatures of ourselves, of who we’d thought we’d be.

Did you imagine you’d be balding, children on the way, too much weight gathered between you, the subtle sigh and smell of settling casting a pall over you?

Did you imagine you’d still be in Korea, somewhere I never imagined you’d be brave enough to sit still in, my awe shivering?

Did you imagine you’d have a home, smothered in country kitsch, like your mother’s. The very thing you swore you’d never do, the clothes you’d never wear, the haircut you’d never had. All in the palm of your hand.

I stare in a mirror, in the lens of my camera, and I don’t recognize myself. In the eyes at least-the loose skin of my face hasn’t changed much, aside from a few more wrinkles. My hair, uncontrollable and wiry, looses it’s grip on itself more each year. My body becomes stagnant and yet stronger, built up in places my hands forget to remind itself about. My eyes have darkened and turned inside, faithful to only me.

Old friends find me, and the same story stumbles out of each-that I inspired them, that I was braver than they could be, that I was always so funny, so dear, so fabulous.

My memories don’t match. My memories are all of a scared little girl running for her life, playing some act better than she ever could on stage. A friend tells me that she wished she could be like me through high school, and I nearly cry, knowing what my seeming strength cost me.

Are these hideous kitchens in photos much the same? Something we put on, for who we think we are, who we think the adult versions of ourselves are meant to look? Do we like what we’ve become, the men and women we’ve grown into?

I’ve grown into my strength. Where once was smoke and mirrors now sits true power, my knuckles white around my heart, grasping and guarding. But so much still feels like a 17 year old-my inability to keep my side of the bed neat, not knowing how to put myself together, that constant feeling that I’m the child in the room. I never feel like the adult-hell, most of the time I wonder who the freak is who let me have children.

I can’t help but step back sometimes thinking, “Fuck me…I’m over 30.” Like a rushing car in a dream, it hovered, but it still hits and you hang in the air staring at it, wondering how it happened. It’s like 18 to 29 just…wafted away into the sky, and I wonder if I really held it after all. Then I look at the people I knew, and how they’ve turned into their parents, and not necessarily in all the good ways, and I wonder what happened to that desire to do something new, be it where they grew up, or thousands of miles away.

What happened? Why do we give up, or in?

I don’t feel this old, as old as I am. I’ll look down and see myself and wonder if I’m too old to dress the way I’m dressed, too old to listen to what I might listen to. I’ll realize that inside, I’ll never feel as old as my parents always seemed, I’ll never have the “adults” house. But I’m ok with that.

I just wish I knew when it all changed.


11 Responses to “Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.”

  1. Sis B March 31, 2009 at 10:34 pm #


    I’ve been a dirty lurker for some time now, and always want to comment but never have time or I want to make it perfect and witty and whatnot. But enough of that crap.

    I found your blog while I was checking out the stats on mine. Someone had found me with a search for a creative phrase using the word “fuck”. I was number two and you were number one, so of course I had to check you out. I wish I could remember the search phrase because it was quite amusing.

    (Excuse me while I write a novel in your comments.)

    I’m always a little blown away because half of the things you write are posts that I’ve had stewing in my head for a week or two. This one is almost exactly like one I’ve been thinking about lately. I turn 30 in a week and a half, and I’ve been thinking about adulthood and how I don’t feel any older than I used to, and how my house isn’t an adult house and how I always feel like the kid, even though I’m wiser and stronger and more experienced. It’s strange, isn’t it? But even stranger to read my own thoughts on your blog.

    I know I’m the dirty lurker and all, but you’re freakin’ me out, man. Get out of my head! πŸ™‚

    So anyway, Hi. I’m a bad commenter and even worse at commenting back on my own blog, but I couldn’t go on any longer without coming out of the shadows and saying hello.

    Thank you for writing. Your posts are refreshingly raw and insightful. I’m glad I’m not the only one who can’t keep my side of the bed straight. πŸ™‚

  2. Hannah March 31, 2009 at 10:52 pm #

    Whooo. You know I’m supposed to be working right now… you know, so I can feed those kids and dog and gas up the minivan and shit… so I don’t have time to do this sucker justice.

    But yes yes yes. I am continually surprised by the fact that I am an adult now. That it’s been *gack* 13 years since high school. That I actually have time in my head to care about RRSPs, lowered interest rates and should we renegotiate our mortgage, wills and life insurance and all that crap – and yet I still play Lego Star Wars at least a couple of evenings a week to unwind after the kids are in bed.

    I hate the idea that there is a barrier between “kid” and “grown-up”. I’m using my mom as my inspiration – she is wise and mature and grown, but I never think of her as aging in any way at all; she’s timeless. I hope I can be the same way.

    Back to work now. Bah. Great post.

  3. Tea April 1, 2009 at 12:41 am #

    This is the sort of thing I think about regularly! I often have trouble realising I’m an adult – I don’t feel any different than I did eleven years ago when I graduated. It’s hard for me to tell myself all that time has passed. Friends have car payments, mortgages, they’re trying to figure out which parents to visit for which holidays so no one feels deprived of grandchildren. The only difference in myself that I can see is that I no longer dye my hair every three weeks.

    I’m an aging teenager. Crappy old car, living in a basement suite, playing video games with friends, and having oreos for breakfast. No kids. At my age, my mom was married with one kid and another on the way. I look at other people my age and think they’re adults, but I’m still a kid.

    Your post was awesome. You rule. πŸ˜€

  4. Jen April 1, 2009 at 8:45 am #

    Oh god me too. I’m not a day over seventeen, I swear, and I feel like an imposter when I’m talking to or in social situations with other grown ups.

    I’ve been talking about this in therapy and feeling like a freak for it. I’m so glad you wrote this; I feel much less like it’s some sort of rampant deficiency I have now.

  5. Marcy April 1, 2009 at 9:09 am #

    I suspect there are people who DO feel like adults, but I’m not sure I’ve met them.

    I think sometimes we realize that those things we swore we’d never do are just really not so bad, and are comfortable — and that the search for the new, the daring, is sometimes misleading and can be escapist or ungrateful.

    Not always, just sometimes.

  6. :rista April 1, 2009 at 11:10 am #

    first…..I graduated 19 (gasp) years ago. I have owned 3 homes, but still stop and look around as if to ask what adult lives here. We have the house w/ a pool, but we also have all the games and movies you could want. I guess both live here.

  7. Gwen April 1, 2009 at 11:15 am #

    As Billy Bragg says, “marriage is when we realize our parents were right.”

    What’s more shocking to me is to understand that my parents never felt any more in control, any more grown up, than I do now. And it’s not that we’re faking it, we current grown-ups. It’s that it’s impossible to see the heart of another, so we dress each other in the clothes we assume are right.

  8. bromac April 1, 2009 at 2:23 pm #

    I do feel like an adult. The laundry and house cleaning and dinner cooking and errands and sick child and school…..I don’t kow how I couldn’t.

    But that is all very vague. There is a new person in my life who has solidified the adultness in me. MY 30yo SIL started dating a 25yo over the summer. He is a stand-up guys and I believe he will be good to my friend. However, he is soooo young and it has made the realization of adulthood shine on me like a flashlight being shined in my eyes.

    The only thing I keep thinking is “I can’t believe I was such a jackass……and that my parents put up with me”. Being around him makes me realize how much marriage, age, and parenting has made me grow into behaving like an adult, and believing as such.

    Now, this is not to say that I have it all figured out, cause I sure as hell do NOT.

  9. mercurial scribe April 3, 2009 at 3:24 am #

    You speak my mind for me and I find that both delightful and baffling.

  10. angharad April 5, 2009 at 12:20 pm #

    i never feel very grown up – and i turn 50 soon! i don’t even give a passable impression of being grown up. i’m so glad i’m not the only one!

  11. Andrea April 6, 2009 at 5:41 pm #

    Oh my, this is the truth. And probably for more than will admit it.
    I have an intrinsic difference. I sure don’t want to go back! My young life sucked. But there is still this feeling in me that I am younger than my years. Like I want to do it the way it should have.
    So I go to work as a nurse, take care of people more frail than me, come home, take care of people more frail than me (if you can call one unemployed husband and three hearty teenagers frail), come on line, comfort people perceived more frail than me but this grown up who can take care of EVERYONE else, is not “grown up”.
    I like to wear black, I wear too much eyeliner, I write poetry, I am miserable, I am an emo kid in an adult life!
    I enjoy concerts more than my kids, want more than my eight tattoos and laugh at Yo Gabba Gabba.
    But I look at it this way, I act grown when it counts. Isn’t that what matters??

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