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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Word of the Day, vol. VI

Word of the Day: PUBERTY
Before leaving for my summer gig, I pulled out the word “puberty” from my word bag. (Thanks again to UL for the inspiration for this exercise.) Then, I spent seven weeks running after newly-post-pubescent people and realized that a) I wouldn’t have time to craft a thoughtful post about puberty and b) I was grateful that I am no longer a teenager.

The year I turned 14, I moved across the country. From the only house and city I’d ever known, a place where I had been that kid on the Brooklyn streets, the one that played on the street in the summer until after the sun went down, the one that walked to and from the corner store that she actually believed was called Corner Store to buy Sunkist soda and Sour Powers, the one that navigated the subway alone at a ridiculously early age. I loved growing up in Brooklyn, despite the tumult of my family life at the time. And in 1997, we moved to Cambria, California, a rural tourist town of a little over 6000 people. I entered a high school of under 200 students.

There is no way for me to process my puberty without noting that this move caused a huge shock to my system. In fact, I’m beginning to believe that this huge change is part of the reason that, despite the fact that I am 26, I often feel about 13.

Evidence that I am 13:
a)My mother still pays for my cell phone;
b)My wardrobe consists mostly of solid colored T-shirts and jeans;
c)I wear Converse sneakers or flip flops almost every day. In fact,
d)I don’t own one pair of proper high heels;
e)I have a teddy bear;
f)I’ve never lived alone;
g)I rarely wear makeup. In fact,
h)I only learned how to do my own eye makeup last year, and I’m still not very good at it;
i)A home-cooked meal is heating up a can of soup or making a sandwich.

Some of these points (and others) are reasons why meeting the worldly, mature, beautiful young women I was in charge of this summer totally paralyzed me. These girls terrified me. I felt outnumbered and overwhelmed, certain that they’d all had more experience and knew more things at their age than I did at mine.

It took me a couple weeks to pull myself out of that thinking and realize that they were 16- and 17-year-olds and that that actually meant I had 10 years of life on them. And that I’d been through a lot. Had a lot to offer them, even.

Evidence that I am not, in fact, 13:
a)I have not lived in my parents’ house in 8 years (barring the 8 months I was in CA last year);
b)I have a college degree and am working on a Master’s degree;
c)My work resume has experience on it from my first jobs in college, which I had 7 years ago;
d)Aside from not paying my phone bill, I have been financially independent for four years;
e)I do my own taxes every year;
f)I held down a full-time job for almost three years;
g)All the furniture in my room was not only purchased but was also put together by me.

The trials and tribulations of the teens I was in charge of seemed like things I’d never experienced. Or things I had experienced lifetimes ago. While they were lamenting the fact that they didn’t get on the weekend trip they wanted or obsessing about which teen boy would notice them at the dance, I had to worry about paying my rent and making sure I would have a roommate to sign my lease when I got back to Boston.

I’ve been very zen since getting back. My mantra lately is “no drama,” and I think that’s because I was finally able to experience the kind of teen angst that I was shocked out of experiencing for myself. I have this new sense that things will work out. That worrying over them and perpetuating drama and over-talking and over-thinking things won’t do any good.

It’s all making me finally feel my age.


Rachiewrites said...

Just so you know, from my point of view, my paying for your cell phone has nothing to do with your age. I do that because, although I wish I could afford to pay for *grad* school, which has everything to do with your age, I cannot! That said, I appreciated this entry immensely; you're awesome. xxx

Sassy said...

Man I am so glad you use your word bag. Mine has been collecting dust. Now YOU are inspiring ME to use it again. Ah, the circle of life.