I attempted to build a fort on the old oak in my backyard with my sister. We had one hammer and a box of nails we stole from the garage. We fastened wooden pieces into the tree’s trunk for steps; that was as far as we got.
And then, I grew up.
I dreamed, you know, like we all do when we’re young, that I would grow up to be something great, an inspirational part of the world. Significant. Someone who was something.
And then, I grew up.
My dog died.
Cancer stole my aunt.
My brother broke my CD player.
I learned forgiveness.
I recognized my sin and accepted Jesus as my Savior.
I asked a guy to prom and he said no.
I was the brunt of a bad rumor.
I cried myself to sleep.
I made the winning shot of a basketball game.
I earned a diploma.
I toilet-papered our teacher’s house with my senior class.
My best friend betrayed me.
My Sallie Mae bill arrived.
I trusted a boy and he let me down.
I bought a tail-wagging, big-brown-eyed puppy.
I wrote a novel.
I danced down the Las Vegas strip with my cousin.
I took a road trip to Texas and ended up lost in Oklahoma.
I learned to laugh, a lot.
I realized how overprotective my parents were.
I rode horseback in the Great Smoky Mountains.
I had a reunion with my college girls on a beach in Maine.
I visited Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
I ordered a pizza in Chicago.
I walked the Boston Trail with my family in the blistering July heat.
I flew to Nashville and watched some of the greats perform at the CMAs.
I shook the hand of the President of the United States of America.
I stuffed a closet full of bridesmaid’s dresses.
I cried at my sibling’s graduations because they grew up.
We all grew up.
I moved to New York City.
I drank one too many glasses of wine at happy hour.
I learned to two-step from some awesome rednecks in the south.
I shared a limo with my favorite people singing along as we blasted music all night.
My roommate taught me how to make the best grilled-cheese sandwich.
I realized no place on earth ever gives you the same warmth as your parent’s house.
I joined in sync with all of Yankee stadium to Sinatra’s “New York” after a W against the Sox.
I blared the music in a minivan and had a dance party with my aunts in a parking lot.
I rounded up my quarters to afford a lunch.
I popped champagne off the roof of my apartment.
I bid good riddance to people who brought me down.
I learned that I love guacamole, and new people, and the bright lights that surround the streets I frequent. I became acquainted with subways and buses and the little old man who sells fruit on the corner of my block. I became accustomed to dirty smells and high energy and cab drivers who hardly speak English. I embraced the melting pot of culture and personalities that may clash anywhere else in the world, but that work to keep this great place going. I learned that best friends sometimes don’t come in the form of beating hearts and shared agendas, they come in encouraging words, a few extra cherries in the bottom of your cocktail, and that feeling you get when you’ve killed the insane project your boss designated you.
I haven’t fallen in love.
I haven’t mastered a foreign language or discovered a new art.
I haven’t even figured out who I want to be.
But I know who I am and I know what I’m doing.
I’m growing up.
Someone once told me in quite a condescending manner to, “grow up.”
Well I was.
And I have.
And I still am.
And damn him for trying to rush me.