Saturday, February 23, 2013

"And I Thought I Grew Up Then"

A friend called me broken the other day.

They didn't mean to but the implication was there, just one short skip from words said to words meant.


And you know what? That used to be true. But, like I mentioned back here, I taped myself together. These days, the tape has been replaced with glue. I'm not so much broken anymore.

But since this friend hasn't seen me in person in nearly 300 days and speaks to me these days mostly through text conversations, how are they supposed to know that I'm glued?

When I went back to my dad's during vacations from college, especially that first summer, we fought a lot. Because that's what we were used to doing, how we related to each other. It took my break-up for that to change. My dad's reaction was completely opposite what I expected which completely changed everything for us. Instead of pulling a "I was right", he was there for me entirely and told me how proud he was of me for having the strength to end things and to not fall completely apart and be a total and complete bitch to everyone around me.

In 84 days, I fly stateside. What the hell is going to happen then?

It's been a year. And like this comment from this friend made me realize, even though everyone important back home has seen glimpses of how I've changed on Facebook, on Skype, through this blog, I am no where close to the girl I was when I came here.

My first time in London, I thought I was fairly mature going there. Then I lived for three months without my parents and away from my fiance. I navigated train systems and buses. I lost my debit card and had to solve the problems that presented. I took a trip to a country where I didn't know a soul, spent four days wandering around knowing only the words "Do you speak English?", and made it out not only alive but more confident of myself than ever. The changes that started there made me into a woman. Or so I've said.

I thought I was mature going into my study abroad. Now, I look back and realize how naive I was, how much I've changed since then. I looked back during college and thought, "Well now I'm an adult. I have a house with friends. I cook dinner. We have our own dishes. I make my own schedule, aside from when class times are." I thought I was an adult.

And then I spend a year four thousand miles from home. I manage my own money and deal with the consequences when I fail at it. I take care of children on a regular basis and am responsible for their well-being. Bedtime and waking up falls on my shoulders, not my parents or my roommates. Again, I pay the consequences when I fail at those things. I'm an adult.

But I'm going home soon. And I don't have a job lined up yet. And I don't know what I'm going to do with myself. And how am I going to give up the independence I have here to fit back into my family? How am I going to maintain being a mature, responsible, self-confident, able adult... and live at home?

I don't want to slip into those teenage-d habits from before I came here. I don't want this year of change to be stuffed in the closet until I have my own place. But it's going to be a big adjustment. And I hope I don't have to live at home for long. But I know the realities and the likelihood of me living in my tiny purple bedroom with my stepsister on one side of the wall and my parental units on the other for the next year. Or more. Because of all my priorities, all the places my money is lined up to go, sadly, an apartment is one of the last big things. (Student loans, car, THEN apartment, if you're curious.)

If you're not familiar with the country song "Then" by Brad Paisley, the basic premise of the song is a man singing to his wife about all the times he thought he loved her and how it seemed impossible to love her anymore than he did at that moment. Then a few years later, something new happens, and he loves her even more. He's sure, as he's singing this song, that years from then he'll be able to look back and say, "And I thought I loved you then". He knows his love with grow even more over time and it'll dwarf how he feels now. That's how I feel about being an adult. I thought going to college made me an adult. I thought coming back from London I was an adult. I thought living in a house with friends made me an adult. I thought graduating made me an adult. I thought a year with an ocean between my loved ones and me made me an adult... Looking ahead I'm sure getting my own car, my own apartment, getting married, having a baby...

There will be more milestones. I will grow more and more. I don't know what the future holds and I don't know how I'll change. But I do know I'll look back at this and say, "And I thought I was grown up then."


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