Thursday, August 28, 2014

the kingdom

Edna St. Vincent Millay said, in a poem:
Childhood is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age
The child is grown, and puts away childish things
Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.
 I'm sure you've heard that, but this stanza is never quoted.
To be grown up is to sit at the table with people who have died,
who neither listen nor speak;
Who do not drink their tea, though they always said
Tea was such a comfort.
I thought about that poem tonight while my friend and I drove home from Young Women's.  The girls in the back discussed Girl Scouts, boys, and school papers.  We, in the front, talked about my friend trying to get pregnant.  Such a serious thing, and yet, the voices in the back seemed serious too.

It always hits me when I'm with a bestie of mine, Julie.  These days we chat often about jobs, finances, supporting our husbands, sex.  And not sex like we used to talk about sex, because now we've done it.  It's serious now.  Like everything is.  It hits me after I leave the car.  I look back at her, that face I've known since Freshman year, and she looks the same.  I feel the same.  But it's like a rabbit hole.  There's three kids in the back of the car instead of fast food bags and we're (trying) to navigate our way to the nearest splash pad instead of the nearest hot tub hangout.  I shake my head in disbelief every single time.  Shouldn't we be talking about boys and school and our roommates?  Wasn't that a week ago instead of ten years?

It's not as if I've never transitioned from one stage of my life to another.  The journey from pigtails and barbies to music and boys didn't hit me as hard.  Perhaps it was more gradual, or less serious?  People start to die, but it isn't as sudden.

I often don't know where to fit.  It seems I have a heart in the backseat and an obligation in the front seat.  My heart is young, but my responsibility is to drive.

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