Katie, my childhood best friend (since we were 4 years old) came to visit me for her spring break for a few days this week. She’s finishing up her last semester of law school and was taking a much-needed break which happened to come at the perfect time for me too. In the past 6 weeks I’ve made pretty significant and stressful professional changes and was probably on the verge of chasing cars when she got in. However, she came just in time and her stress relieving vacation turned out to be mine as well. Suddenly, it seemed that my life events were less like big looming problems but resembled more the adventures we’d always dreamed up when we were kids playing in my backyard playhouse.
As we hiked up mountains, tasted wine, toured museums, cheered bands and cruised the coastline, old memories mixed in with the new ones we were making. Turns out that after all the growing up we’ve done, we’re still very much those same girls who met on moving in day all those years ago. The little puzzles we face everyday are no different now than the ones we had back then, they’ve just grown to fit our new situations and capabilities.
In the beginning of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, the child narrator explains how adults pretend to have things figured out, and how it is all a big lie. She explains in her cynical point of view, “the truth is that (adults) are just like everyone else: nothing more than kids without a clue about what has happened to them, acting big and tough when in fact all they want is to burst into tears.” After reading the book, I thought about this for a while and about how many of my friends are married and have kids of their own. This little fact only means that I am in the same spot my parents and their friends were in when I was a kid; it means I am a grown up, despite any lingering feelings I have that I am anything else. Even though it always used to seem like there was some big chasm separating youth and adulthood, the only real difference is that as you get older more things are expected of you and you shoulder more responsibilities. Hopefully you’ve learned more to help you deal with that stuff, but that’s completely optional.
Last night we rented Muppets: the Movie, which tacitly connected in my head the theme of moving on and growing up. Don’t judge me when I confess I teared up when Jason Segal’s character gave his inspirational speech to his Muppet brother, Walter. (PS this might be a spoiler alert). He said, “Sooner or later you’ve gotta believe in yourself too…because that’s what growing up is. It’s becoming who you want to be.”
Watching that movie with Katie around just seemed so appropriate. We always talked about growing up and what we wanted to do or be. She always wanted to be a lawyer, and she’s straight on her way to doing it. I wanted to be a dolphin trainer, chef, veterinarian, soccer star…well that part wasn’t as decided for me, but we are both very much living out our passions. We’ve developed friendships and relationships that mean a lot to us and support our visions of who we are and who we want to become.
So even though we’re more living “house” than playing house and we’re balancing budgets instead of throwing around monopoly money, we’re still living in our dream worlds. While Katie visited it felt like we were just big kids skipping around the city, but that doesn’t mean that now that she’s left we’re back to our anxiety ridden grown up worlds. We just have to remember that where we are is where we want to be and that we still have the freedom to shape our lives to match our dreams.