I guess I'll get a little more personal tonight and have a little "Dear Diary" session. Don't say you weren't forewarned!

I'm a little under two months away from turning 27. Happy Birthday, me. I can't believe how old I am. Forgive me, anyone older, who may be offended by my astonishment, but... I really didn't think time would go so quickly. Obviously, no one ever really does. I know my father is reeling at the fact that he's... um... 30?! (yeah, he's on this site, so I'll play down his age a TINY bit).

I'm going to confess something, and that is that I miss feeling like I have an eternity ahead of me. It was still pretty hard, at 18, to realize I wasn't a child anymore and that my life was about to take a dramatic turn into young-adulthood. The reality it that this was the moment my faith began to crack, but it was also the moment I realized I was mortal, and that my beloved grandmother was mortal, and that time was tick-tick-ticking away. What I felt looming was "the inevitable" course of life, and it was extremely depressing.

At the time, I was working at a Ford warehouse in Carrollton, TX (it's gone now) and had been hired as a temp to pick orders for national dealerships around the country. It was pretty brutal, too. The hours were 11pm until 7am in an 85, or more, degree warehouse. I pushed around a huge cart and battled falling over in exhaustion every night. For a while, I fought the urge to just quit because I was making $19.13 an hour. For an 18 year old, that's pretty damn good and I needed a car. Later, I made a pact with myself: I could only quit on a Friday. Since Mondays were the worst, I was definitely not allowed to quit that day. If I could just make it to Friday, then I could quit. But, I almost always felt rejuvenated and like I could pull through one more week. Eventually, I made it to the last night of my employment with Ford and played another game to get me through the last night. As I pushed my cart through each isle and wiped the dirty sweat from my brow, I reminded myself this would all be a memory soon. Each shelf I embedded in my memory so I could pull it up later and say, "It's over."

The next week, I was at my grandparent's house, enjoying a much-need and deserved vacation. It was all behind me and I could finally relax. I got to hang out and do nothing for two weeks. It was like I was 11 again and spending the summer with gramma and granpa! But, two nights before I had to leave, it hit me like a ton of bricks: THIS would all be a memory soon, too!

My grandmother was being her usual silly self, dancing like a goof-ball in front of the T.V., and I was sitting on the couch laughing. This woman had been like a second mother to me; she was my favorite person alive... and I realized she wouldn't be here forever. I also realized, no matter how badly I wanted to stay with them forever, and not ever grow up or go to college or find a husband who would move me somewhere, I had no power to remain. I had to strike out and make a life for myself, and I knew that I would. It didn't matter how much I loved them; it didn't matter how much I resented not being able to spend every waking moment with them while they were still alive... my life would go on without them.

I cried all night. It was like I was mourning my childhood. Other things changed that night as well. My faith in God was severely shaken for other reasons, but I would say that this moment was an "ah ha!" moment, but maybe not the kind one enjoys. It's like, "AH HA! I'm going to die someday! Oh. Damn."

So, tonight is kind of like that, too. "The Inevitable" has made itself known again. Since I was 21, I've been moving from state-to-state like a vagabond. Nashville, TN was the "fun, single-life" stage, although severely tinged with religiosity. Oklahoma, Cali and Colorado were the "get-to-know-the-estranged-family-and-subsequently-yourself" stage. Florida was the "lose-the-confidence-issues-already" stage. I made the best friend of my life there, and lost a childhood friend (which represents, also, my loss of religion). Last June, I made an emergency flight home (Texas) because my big brother was in the hospital with some pretty serious lung issues. I had desperately wanted to flee the Florida scene anyway, and I knew I wouldn't be in Texas longer than a year.

Well, what I didn't realize was that flight out of South Florida was actually a transition out of my young-adulthood and into a real relationship. I've struggled a bit with the fact that a certain aspect of my life is over. In fact, all my girl-friends are now in serious relationships, too. Some are married, some have kids, and the rest are headed that way. This is a stage I wasn't prepared for, either. It seemed to happen so suddenly! Now all the girls I grew up with and had sleep-overs with (even at 26) have kids and aren't even able to do that stuff anymore. They're leading completely different lives. My boyfriend and I don't plan to marry or have kids so relating to them is going to be increasingly difficult. But, you know, I've sort of gotten somewhat used to this fact.

"The Inevitable" seems to be another move and, this time, it's Maryland. I never wanted to stay in Texas but I wanted to stay put for at least a year. But, the opportunity resides up north; staying here seems pretty dumb. It's not really the move that bothers me; it's the fact that I have to say goodbye to Caleb, my brother. I know I'll see him again so it's not like GOODBYE but... his surgery made me painfully aware of his mortality, too. Oh yes, and the fact that he was recently held up at gunpoint in the bank he works at. I posted on my FB that I missed Colorado (because that's where some family is) and Caleb replies, "please don't move again!" Those four words felt like a big stab in my chest. I can't help it!

I realized tonight that, without any spiritual significance, we're all allowed One person to share our lives with. Of course, we're free to choose this One, but there's very little room for any others. Yes, we can all socialize with as many people as we want; we can still have tons of friends. But, when it comes down to it, we have to choose that One over everyone else. In the end, everyone will choose their One over us, too. If we don't have a One, we'll have no one in the end... because everyone else will be with theirs. My brother has his One, and my mother, and my sisters, and my other brother; my cousin has hers and my dad has his. I guess this is why we're supposed to choose wisely, and I believe I have. It's just hard realizing that some things are almost not a choice, like the move to MD. It would be stupid not to go. Texas has nothing to offer except awesome atheist conversation with my older brother. I hope he can handle the religious family without me...

Views: 11

Comment by Shine on December 7, 2009 at 9:49am
Really nice. I just turned twenty-eight, and I completely understand how it feels to watch all your friends involved in starting families. I swear my Facebook homepage is just a long list of baby pictures. Don't get me wrong, their kids are adorable and I am very happy for all of them. But there is twinge of envy that I cannot resist feeling, even though I genuinely do not want children in my life right now. It is ironic, since I was the first one to get married in my early twenties (and subsequently divorced by twenty-five). Right now, I am in a relationship with a man who has a degenerative neuromuscular condition; it is a terminal (albeit lengthy) disease with no known cure and only mildly effective therapies. We have been together for almost three years now, and I still struggle with facing his inevitable mortality. I guess in the end it has just forced me to live in the present, as trite as that may sound, and I've learned how important it is to appreciate that One because we never know how long we have have with them.
Comment by Gaytor on December 7, 2009 at 10:57am
I remember feeling "What is wrong with me?" at 25-26 during the holidays. Everyone my age was involved and I just wanted to go party. Is the timing making these feelings more common as we wait until later in life to get married and have kids? Or even just "settle down" and have the adult stable life. Is it that the change is forced upon us socially due to attrition of single friends? Is this why those of us who are waiting longer feel strain of age weighing on us?
I got married at 27 after spending 9 actual days with my wife. The transition to being married was difficult, but having the One has become comfortable. I will always look fondly at the days of being single. I miss it. My wife misses it. My inability to party til 2 might be a damper on it, but it is so much fun to chase, be chased, and get to know someone. The timing of when to get caught seems to be getting later and later in life. I easily could have waited until now (35) and been satisfied with the single life. Or, if you go too long, you end up like my best friend and know that you'll never have the "One" because you'll refuse to bend when you need to. It's a fine line between getting all the juice out of that lemon and having only dried out rind to offer.
Comment by Dave G on December 7, 2009 at 1:31pm
Very nice, Cara. Somewhat reminiscent of my own past recognitions of mortality, particularly the one coming up in 6 months or so.

Some of us never find a 'One', and after a long enough time of fruitless searching, even the hope of finding that connection fades. Always the groomsman, never the groom, to put a twist on an old phrase.
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on December 7, 2009 at 2:26pm
Great post, Cara!
If it makes you feel any better, I do understand.
I turn 27 in a few weeks, too. I travel all over the world with no permanent home. I am with someone, but no plans on having kids or doing the 'normal' life thing.
I was raised by my grandparents.
My life is divided into stages of awareness and location.
I'm also insanely curious why the word 'boyfriend' in your blog was a link. Now I'm going to go back up and click on it...........
Comment by Reggie on December 8, 2009 at 12:01am
@ Dave Somewhat reminiscent of my own past recognitions of mortality, particularly the one coming up in 6 months or so.

What? What?!

@ Shine Right now, I am in a relationship with a man who has a degenerative neuromuscular condition;

I wondered who that was in your photos. In at least one sense, he is a very lucky guy.

@ Cara - I have hit a major turning point in the past couple of years were my life is nothing as it was. I miss it, miss my friends, miss old co-workers, but I am admittedly overly nostalgic. The past always seems to hold a specialness that the present never reveals and if I could figure out how to recognize it while I am living in those moments, I think I would be quite blissful indeed! But this may be the nature of humanity.

And Morgan is your BF? Revelation! To me at least. I guess since Morgan is your boyfriend and my wife is on this site, too, I won't say anything about the secret crush I have on you. Nor will I mention the man crush I have on Dave.
Comment by Cara Coleen on December 8, 2009 at 2:22am
@Shine You're very brave :) To live in the present definitely does not sound trite and, like Reggie said, he's lucky to have you... as I'm sure you feel lucky to have him.

@ Dave What's happening in 6 mo??

@Gaytor Is it that the change is forced upon us socially due to attrition of single friends? I think there are many factors FORCING us into conventional submission. It's something I really resent. I'm busy rebelling against it and hopefully that won't backfire.

@Reggie I definitely think you've hit on something: the past is always seems better in retrospect. I don't know that there's necessarily anything special about those moments except that we're suddenly aware it's over and we can't go back. I miss Colorado, but living there was hell for many reasons; the same is true of Florida and Tennessee. There are things I can take away from those experiences but I think we should remind ourselves that the reality is: it was definitely NOT always sunshine and lolly pops "back then". If we even so much as LIKE our lives right now, we should appreciate the fact that it's not presently tumultuous. And GAWD!!! I'm sooo glad I'm not a teenager anymore, though there are definitely things about that time I miss (like not having to have a job).
Comment by Shine on December 8, 2009 at 8:16am
Thanks. ;)

And Reggie, everyone totally knows about your man crush on Dave. We talk about it when you're not looking.
Comment by Dave G on December 8, 2009 at 11:50am
@Reggie, @Cara

Don't worry, I'm just talking about my upcoming birthday. The big 40. *sigh* I was just beginning to get used to not being in my 20s anymore...

The past does tend to acquire a glow about it, where we forget the bad parts and focus on the 'good old days'. That said, i have no desire to ever go back to being a teenager in high school. :) Now, if science can whip up a way for me to be 23 again, then we'll talk. ;)
Comment by Reggie on December 8, 2009 at 1:29pm
@ Shine - That obvious? The man has a sexy brain, what can I say? Braaaiiiins!

@ Dave - Whew! 40 years old is only one foot in the grave. I thought your were going to leap in with two!
Comment by Reggie on December 8, 2009 at 6:50pm
I liked that story, Neal.

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