Saturday, February 23, 2008

Growing Up

My 27th birthday appeared without warning a few weeks ago and with it came the anxiety and panic of aging. I am now officially in my late-20’s, WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN, and this seems to be the year that everyone I know has decided to get married. Consequently, virtually each day carries with it a constant reminder of the passage of time- my biggest fear.

While my contemporaries are updating their profiles and registering for overpriced crystal stemware at Bergdorf’s, I’m sitting here unable to think of anything BUT the artifacts from my childhood that I will never have again. Everything I touch now, as an adult, reminds me of what I had then- and probably didn’t appreciate half as much as I should have.

I actually remembered to take my Calcium vitamin this morning and as the monstrous chalky thing lodged itself in the back of my throat; I had a fleeting image of Flintstone’s Chewables- and I remembered how much I loved the red ones. As the pill slid lower down what I hoped was my esophagus, I walked to the kitchen in order to wash it down with some juice. Regrettably, the fridge was devoid of any liquid matter whatsoever and what flashed in my mind? None other than my parents’ colossal sub-zero that never failed to be full enough to feed a small army when I was younger.

As I sit here mourning the lost articles of my youth, I’m beginning to wonder why we feel it necessary to give up some of life’s most straightforward pleasures. Aging shouldn’t be synonymous with sacrifice. I never came across a mandate banning pigtails past the third grade. And honestly, would scented erasers really hinder our work rates if we confined them to post-its and grocery lists?

I miss nap time. I miss room mothers and their birthday cupcakes; we should eat cupcakes on every birthday- be it seven or forty-seven. I miss spelling bees, I miss Caboodles and their many superfluous compartments. I miss sleepover parties, and I am strongly considering reinstating them- accompanied by pillow fights, sleeping bags, scary movies and make-your-own Sundaes. I miss the Dade County Youth Fair- although I don’t miss being grounded from going to the Dade County Youth Fair. I miss dance recitals and trapper keepers and playing doctor. I miss sleepaway camp. I miss back-to-school shopping sprees and handwritten letters from faraway friends. I miss eating without counting the calories.
I miss my childhood best friend, Ashleay. I think she got married to a man my father’s age a few years ago. I miss club houses and climbing trees and riding my bike just for the sheer pleasure of going somewhere other than my driveway. I miss LEGOs. I miss knowing that my mom was always close at hand- even when I was convinced I hated her. I miss not knowing what a bank statement or a doctor’s bill looked like. I miss taping songs in my boom box straight from the radio. I miss being able to hang colored Christmas lights in my room year-round without anyone questioning me. I miss the feeling of rebellion- when we get older, there is no one left to rebel against. I think the thing I miss the most though, is one of the few things I can never get back; I miss the innocence of never knowing what a broken heart feels like.

Then again, there are incidents that I would never want to relive and items that I would never want to even glimpse again. These are the things reminding me that, “maybe this getting old thing isn’t so bad after all.”

I would never want to endure another P.E. class. I don’t miss the lice outbreaks and the resulting, incredibly embarrassing “head checks.” I don’t miss piano lessons and I don’t miss braces. I don’t miss visits to the pediatricians, regardless of how many extra stickers they gave me as I left. I don’t miss protractors or heavy JanSport backpacks. I don’t miss curfews or the consequences of breaking them. I don’t miss cafeteria food or the Periodic Table or standing up for the Pledge of Allegiance during the morning announcements. I don’t miss detention and I don’t miss carpool or the kids that never let me sit in the front seat.

I believe growing up has its advantages and disadvantages. When I was young, I was lucky enough to have the world laid out in front of me for the taking- I had the opportunity to travel any path and become whoever I wanted to be. I miss that. What I don’t miss is the ignorance of childhood- being indifferent to my freedom and therefore, not taking advantage of it. If only we could go back “knowing what we know now.” I would definitely eat more Flintstone’s vitamins.

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