"Graceful." Exclaims my date.
"Fuck off." I say, ever the lady.
We eat dinner and we joke and giggle. The Korean waitstaff stares at us from the stairwell through the entire meal and I can't help but to be amused. The laughing just doesn't seem to stop. I'm turning 32 and I feel far to fucking young to be turning thirty-two. Yet here I am.
Life goes on. I go to work, I teach classes. My students have looked at me as the eptitomy of old since I began teaching. I recall being at the middle school in Chicago and having some students asked how old I was. When I responded 22 they all looked at me and said "Damn, your like an old maid." I remember thinking they were only twelve and have no idea what they are talking about. I smiled and went on with my job. Now I am an old maid and I don't know how that is supposed to feel. I don't feel like an adult.
Confrontation with the flux of adulthood happens daliy. The decision to pay a bill, the need to travel to a doctor, getting health insurance, updating a resume, communicating with co-workers, meeting a deadline, making the right phone call at the right time, answering the question about specialized knowledge in my field. These are adult activities that I interact with on almost an hourly basis but they feel so outside of myself. Who is this person who is aging, do I know her, is she here, is she me.
I discuss with friends what to do about their lives. They come to me for help and advice. Should I date this one? Sleep with that one? Leave the other one? When has the relationship become so abusive it should be ended? What is important? What is more important, love or money? On and on. I meet this confrontations with what little I have some tools learned from my own therapy and a willingness to support whatever decision is made. But every time I'm asked, every time I listen, I can't help wondering if I"m not just playing at grownup by trying to understand. Do I reallly understand?
Here I sit at thirty-two. And I think about what I am not. I am not a mother. I am not rich. I'm not a doctor. I'm not well read. I'm not full of vibrant experience. I look at all the people around me and see the opposite, mothers, philosophers, educated peoples, and even those who have suceeded far beyond my wildest dreams. Where does it leave me? Who does it leave me?
Have I made a wrong turn?
I remember, when I was 25 having just arrived in Korea and finding myself suddenly befriending a guy I would call simply a jock. A stock broker running away from New York for a year of travel while he tried to figure out what to do with his life. He was 32. We talked often. I asked him about his future one night over drinks before we went to the crappy dance club that I enjoyed at the time. "I don't know, but I'd like to meet a girl, have a kid, you know."
I remember being incredulous. Why would you want to have children. You have an excellent life, plenty of money (enough in the bank to fuckoff in Korea for a year) youth and health, etc.
"But, you know Sara, after all this time I'm a little bored with it. A kid, that's something real. It's changes things. Makes life interesting again."
I sit here at thirty-two and I try to understand that sentiment. I still don't get it. I feel like I've only barely begun understanding how to live for myself.
And I'm an old maid.
And I have no idea when I will feel like I have reached that door marked adulthood and walked through. I still feel like a child newly hatched and constantly floundering in the big bad world.