August 16, 2006

Twentysomething

Looks like its getting ready to rain here at the meadow. I love watching storms come up across the mountains, so I brought my laptop outside so that I can see it happen while I write this. It’s been cloudy and cool all day, and if I were to close my eyes, I could almost convince myself that it’s not even summer anymore.

It doesn’t feel like summer, that’s for sure, and it sure doesn’t smell like summer ought to. None of the smells of freshly cut yards of grass, because even when they do cut the grass, it’s all brown and dry anyway. Not lush and green and inviting. And it’s never sounded like summer…no crickets singing you to sleep or frogs croaking by the water. No lightening bugs sending Morse code out into the woods. Right now, for instance, even though it’s getting ready to rain, it is going to be a cold rain, not a good summer rain that leaves everything looking clean and smelling like fresh laundry.

I’m still missing the South like crazy, apparently. It’s not unusual for me to miss it when I’m living other places, but ever since I moved to Montana, the longing for it has been touched with more melancholy than ever before. I struggled with it a lot after I’d been here for about a month, but it went away after a couple of weeks.

Now, however, it seems it is back.

I guess it’s a security thing. A place where I’ve felt safe, a place I understand, a place I’m comfortable with, a place I’ve belonged to. It makes sense that I longed for that after that first month. I was lonely. I was past the point of being fascinated by all the new things of living in Montana and I was really beginning the business of settling down here, and none of it was coming as easily as I wanted it to.
It did get better though and I did start finding things and people to plug in to, and I became more content with being here.
Now, however, that longing has come back. I never know what to do about this contradiction within me. When I am at home, I constantly want to be somewhere else…but when I’m somewhere else, I pine for home.

I think part of it has to do with the stage of life I am in. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately; what it means to be in your mid-twenties. I obviously don’t have much to compare it to, but it seems to me that this is a weird limbo age.
On paper I am a full-fledged, card-carrying member of the adult world. I have the crappy, tiny first apartment, the phone bills and car payments, an unbalanced check book, concerns about gas prices and global warming and the current occupants of the White House.
But on the inside, I am afraid that one day someone is going to figure out that I’m just pretending to be an adult. That in reality, I have no clue what I’m doing, nor do I feel completely capable of actually being adult.

I think there are a lot of people who feel this way, that it’s not just limited to those of us who are just a few steps past the line of demarcation that separates adolescence from adulthood. I don’t know what events have to occur in your life before you actually feel up to the challenge of being an adult. The older I get, the less I think it has to do with the number of birthdays you’ve celebrated and a lot more to do with what happens during the time in between those cakes and streamers.
Regardless of how I feel about it, or whether I am fully ready to accept it, I am an adult. Assuming I don’t die young, I will probably spend close to 70% of my life as an adult, so I guess I better get used to it.

My point about being in your mid-twenties though is this: You are an adult, and unless you are one of those people that met your spouse in high school or college (and don’t get me started on that tangent), you are probably out on your own. You can’t live at home, unless you want to try the accepted social norms. You are, at least in my case, continuing to establish your identity away from your family. You are still part of your family, of course, but how you interact with them is changing, you know? It all comes back to that same idea of needing to belong somewhere. Fitting in. I don’t know why that is such an intense feeling for me right now, but it’s popping up all over the place.

I was driving through this beautiful neighborhood the other day. It had friendly houses that looked lived in, and yards full of old trees that reached out across the yards to touch the ones on the other side of the street. Kids were running around everywhere, bikes were strewn across lawns, and sprinklers were pumping away, trying their best to keep the grass green and damp despite the dryness of a Montana summer. As I pulled to a stop at the intersection, I remember thinking, “How much longer until I get this?”

Don’t misunderstand me here. I am so not ready to have a mortgage or the water bills that go with those sprinklers or little people who share half my DNA running around. I’m really not ready for that. In fact, given my penchant for running away from commitments, it may be a long while before I am ready for that.

But it's not stopping me from wanting that sense of belonging some place. How do you create that on your own?

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