Adulthood…wonderful and terrifying, sometimes within the same week.
I had the pleasure of spending my past weekend in Liberty, MO reunited with college friends. Albeit quicker than any of us would have wanted, we managed to pack in our 48 hours together!
At one point I was walking around with my friend Abby, and she stopped and said something along the lines of, “Adulthood is great! Cars are great!” There is something particularly wonderful about having the freedom, should you get your ducks in a row, to drive 500 odd miles to see friends and to attend a wedding. I ate so much BBQ and breakfast food (Oklahoma Joe’s and First Watch). Really, the weekend was devoted to eating. I’m not sure how to put it in words, but there is a satisfaction in booking a hotel for yourself, driving places, trying new restaurants that I love. When I was younger and would long to be an adult this is what I was longing for. “You can do whatever you want,” my younger self would think. And within reason this proved to be true. It was a weekend gloriously free of responsibilities (other than being somewhat of the soccer mom of the crew), but a weekend that could not have happened had I not been living up to my responsibilities (lesson-planning, holding down a job that allowed me to pay for this extravaganza, holding a driver’s license, etc.)
And now without any transition here are a few pictures:
The terrifying part is this: no one is telling you what to do. I can eat Lucky Charms for dinner every night of the week. As much as I want someone to tell me to eat steamed broccoli and grilled chicken, I’m on my own in the kitchen. No one reminds me or nags me to do anything. I realize that this might change should I get married and have a family, but for the moment I am so free. And that freedom means I do really stupid things like wait too long to get the oil changed in my car. Or put off getting my car registered in a timely fashion. Or knowing that some years I really do have to pay additional taxes (although seriously, IRS, I’m a teacher, cut me some slack!) In the eyes of the world I seem like a fully responsible adult (I am an educator, for crying out loud!), but most days I feel like I’m barely skating by or staying only one step ahead of the next adult problem.
My current adult problem involves my teeth. Long have they plagued me. In high school I started getting cavities filled with an alarming regularity. I would like to point out that my teeth are very small and very close set, but as Grandpa Berg has told me, you only have to brush the ones you want to keep. A few months ago I was in a lot of pain. But the pain went away after two days, and so I assumed all was well and that my body had healed itself. Miraculous thing that! But alas, an infection had killed off part of my tooth so that it no longer hurt, delving deeper and deeper into my gum and eventually my jaw. Shame and fear washed over me when the dentist showed me the x-ray today. Apparently the infection could have spread all the way to my lymph nodes. Not to be over-dramatic, but I could have died…slowly and painfully, with a reliance in the restorative power of ibuprophen, frozen vegetables (no ice packs), and rocking my head until the pain subsided.
This is when I’m grateful to be surrounded by adults who are legitimate adults. My two friends I teach with were adamant about my going to the doctor and then the dentist. They were to the point of calling up and demanding an appointment for me. It didn’t come to that, but I have no doubt in my mind that K would have. And I am so grateful and so humbled that I have adults around me, busy mothers with their own families, who are willing to take care of me when I need it. Another shout-out must go to my own mother. Do you ever stop needing your mother? To get to this wedding it was becoming apparent that I would need painkillers to see me through the weekend. I was nervous about calling the doctor. I had to call my mom and walk through the conversation with her before calling my doctor. Yes, when you’re in pain, the only person you really want is your mom. When my fellow teachers were asking me what I was going to do about my tooth and my weekend plans, I told everyone that I didn’t know, but that I had to call my mom. They understood.
So, I suppose that while I’ve made some strides towards adulthood, I’ve got a long ways to go. Oddly enough, the thing that seems the most immature to me (asking for help or advice when needed) has helped me the most and may be the strongest sign of maturity. Wasn’t it Socrates who said he was the wisest man in Athens because he knew he knew nothing?
I can’t wait to grow up.