P is nearly four months my senior. Every year about this time he starts asking me how it feels to be on the verge of 28 (or whatever it is that year). He starts asking me, irritatingly often, how it feels to be on the verge of being so old. I remind me that he’ll reach that mark well before I will, that I’m not even halfway between birthdays yet. It doesn’t phase him, he keeps asking me and then asking if I want a big party for such a grand occasion.
Ellie, our cat, is sprouting grey hairs at an astonishing rate. She arrived in my life as a shiny black ball of fur. She had a mouth that opened so wide and red when she meowed that it dwarfed her tiny body. She’d sleep in the kangaroo pocket of my sweatshirts and slept our first night together stretched across my neck (literally), neither set of paws touching the ground. That was in the spring of 2003, nearly six years ago. We’ve been through a lot and we’re so tightly twisted together the thought of losing her makes me sick; it seems improbable, impossible even.
My nephews turned four this past week. Those tiny, fragile babes born weeks early, are busy, joking, running, story-telling, song-singing HUGE children. While I used to carry them both simultaneously, one tucked into each arm, now they don’t both fit in my lap with all those long limbs and big heads. They’re strong and heavy and I can barely tip them upside down or spin them around. I swear to god they’ll outgrow me by second grade.
Their birth came as a very exciting time for me – I had just finished my first few stints as a bicycle mechanic and was one of the city’s few, full time girl mechanics. I was on my way to an eagerly anticipated farm internship that changed my life and in seven or so months I left on the trip I had been planning my whole life. It’s saddening, somehow, to realize that that vibrant, much-hoped for time is now four years past.
P is also popping grey hairs, has been since the day we started dating. I sometimes pluck them, but mostly ignore them. I think grey hair is handsome. I think I must have a few, too, but dishwater blonde has its’ advantages – they’re awfully hard to find. Not that I’ve looked.
P also has these wonderful little wrinkles around his eyes when he smiles. I hope they become permanent. My dad had them, too, as does my aunt and all the other people from my childhood whom I remember being laughing a lot and being happy. I hope I get them, too, someday and I hope I love them as much as I love them on people around me.
I knew how to plan my early twenties – I knew I wanted to travel and learn to cook and learn to grow things and knit and and and… I dove in, I did most of it, and I loved most of it even though it was often challenging.
I don’t know how to enter my late twenties or even my thirties. I didn’t plan this far ahead. I didn’t do what everybody else did in their early twenties and how I don’t have a herd to follow as I move forward. I’m behind on the career curve, I don’t want to have kids or be a stay-at-home wife (P still does his own laundry and I have no intention of taking it over). I don’t much care for my work options. I’m a little bit stuck. Ok, a lot stuck. Life is good, very good even, but I don’t know what I want to do anymore. I thought I would have had it figured out by now.
What should I be when I grow up?