When one is in their mid to late 20's, as I am, there is a great deal of angst and agony over where one sees one's self on the age scale. Or maybe there is not. Maybe it is just me. At any rate, I find myself toeing the line between kid and grown up, toeing it ever so lightly, pitching over it at some points. Yes, for all intents and purposes, I am a grown up. I pay taxes, I have a job and utility bills and weekly grocery store lists. But there is still that part of me, laughing at fart jokes, all too willing to seperate myself from the grody adults I see walking around my office building in their sensible shoes and polyester skirt suits. In many ways, I find myself identifying with my 12 year old daughter as she toes the ever-changing line between child and adolescent. And I like to think that the whole "where do I fit in" thing is a shared experience with my fellow late-20's group as well.
On Friday, my husband I sent our children to stay with his parents for the weekend. Our anniversary was actually last weekend, but my MIL was out of town and could not watch the kids, so we put it off until this weekend. We had many, many plans. At first, when we began considering this weekend away months ago, we had considered going to Bonnaroo. But then I wondered if my husband could take it, him not being the music fan that I am and not having the uh, let's say, weak tie to personal needs and cleanliness that I have (which is not to say that I'm some Pigpen-esque woman--you just haven't met my fastidious husband and his perma bottle of Purel). And then we thought of driving somewhere else--a cabin we went to last year, a minor league baseball team several states away. We decided to leave it to the fates and decide spur of the moment on the day of our parental parole. But then, on Friday, we were tired, and it was oh-so easy to make the executive decision to have a kid-free staycation. Lots of books, booze and very un child friendly movies and TV shows. What a plan.
On Saturday was when I first felt it. The freedom of it all. Our house was messy--toys that had not been put away littered one side of the living room, laundry laid in a haphazard pile in the bathroom, dishes rose to frightening heights in the kitchen. This normally would cause me to, no shit, break out in hives. But for some reason, I was ok with it. I laid on the couch and watched an entire season of Californication and consumed all too many calories and was just generally ok. Matt remarked on my general demeanor. I was chill. I was calm. For the first time in literally as long as I can remember, I was not multitasking. I was sitting there, being. My neck was no longer tight. At night, I slept in a happy mass on the bed, not waking once, not moving. I slept until 10. And it is here that it should be noted that I have pretty wretched insomnia and often get up around 3, often with Journey's "Lights" playing over and over in my head (analyze that shit, ya'll).
On Sunday, Matt and I drove to a close by city to eat Thai food and look for Green Lantern stuff for Matt's upcoming-nerd-Christmas. On the way there, I remarked that I wish that I had something worthy of a nerd-Christmas--I have mentioned earlier on here that I have never really hooked into a pop-culture fad (no Twilight or Harry Potter or comic book movie--not because I am pretentious or mean, but just because it doesn't appeal to me). I lamented the fact that I feel old, that nothing gets me super excited, that no movies are really made with me in mind. That I am stuck in reality a bit too much. Matt normally rolls his eyes at these laments. But that day, he smiled and said, "Well, you haven't been very old this weekend. You've seemed a lot younger. I bet you don't even know how much fiber you've had today."
I smiled because it was true. I had had precious little fiber, except for that from a smattering of banana peppers, eaten greedily from the jar. And I did feel younger. Like a younger version of myself. Then I bristled a bit--had he meant that I'm normally an old, heinous bitch?
We got to the mall and did a cursory look around. Matt got bored and wanted to go to a comic book store a bit down the road. I said ok, even though I was really done with the mall myself. Faced with not much to do, I found myself ducking into the humongous Forever 21 store. Now, let me just say, I have said my share of negative things about F21. I felt their clothes were cheap, poorly constructed, and made much, much too small, especially when I was a size 14/16 gal. If anything, they pissed me off because they didn't have anything to fit my frame at that point in my life (they have since added plus sized offerings, I'm told). I hadn't really given them much of a chance. But lately, I've seen ladies finding some cute, serviceable maxi dresses there, dresses that would be perfect for days spent with my kiddos, bathing suit on underneath. I began my search for the cheap, elusive maxi dress.
I'll just tell you now that I didn't find it. I tried one on (this is the closest approximation I could find online) that I absolutely, bar-none adored, but alas, I'm about 6 inches too short to really rock the look. So that was a fail, a sad, weeping fail that I spent a good chunk of our dinner talking about. But I did find so, so much more. I ended up walking out with a flowy camisole, a floaty vest type thing (neither of which I readily found online, but really, that whole website is a clusterfuck and I'm not very patient), a fedora, some turquoise earrings, a necklace with a matroyshka on it, and a pair of espadrilles. Yeah, none of this is representative of a classic piece, something I'm going to come back to forever. Who gives? It is fun--full of summer and and fun and perfect for an easygoing time with the husband and kids. I have started wondering where F21 has been all my life.
And while I was in the dressing room with my 14 articles of clothing, just having a grand time, I listened a bit to all that was going on around me. My fellow dressing room denizens were teenage girls, not so much older than my daughter at home. They were excited, they were happy with the clothes, with a day out with friends, with their bodies and their place in life. Their mothers, however, seemed old, standing there in the harsh light, wearing oversized t-shirts and khaki shorts. And they were oh so tired. And negative. And I was saddened for them and for myself, knowing that in ways, I am much closer to that than I am to the girls giddily zipping up dresses and matching up outfits.
I won't say that I have changed because of this past weekend. My kids came home to a clean kitchen, and I would have gotten a nice start on the laundry, had our machine not decided to overflow and flood our entire laundry room. And then, well, I woke up with a start at 3:00 this morning, went to the couch and tossed and turned for an hour and a half before I finally threw in the towel and read, finally falling asleep at 5:30 and waking again at 6:00. I ate my old lady cereal, and for lunch, I enjoyed a low-fat chicken salad sandwich that I made, and really, there is no more old lady food than chicken salad. But, in ways, I feel a little farther from that old lady line, a little closer to the line where I sleep like a baby and where my neck is free from the knots and bumps that usually reside there. And I think I know better now about how important it is to stay far, far from that line with the downturned mouth, the grumpiness, the multi-tasking need to get it all done. And maybe I have Forever 21 to thank for it.