April 30, 2006

On lists, grace, and twenty five.

I have mentioned before that I am a list-maker. I am a maker of lists daily. Sometimes I make them to get me through the day; a sort of step by step guide, each little bullet point crossed out like breadcrumbs leading Gretel through an afternoon; each task there almost just in case I forget which way is home. Sometimes I make them mentally: a checklist of things to do over a lifetime, a list of people I aspire to see myself become, a list of things I want to be sure not to forget.

One of the things on my "to-do this month" list is about me: blow out twenty five candles on a double-chocolate birthday cake.

I love cake. And making wishes. I've got this under control. Except the year (twenty five. TWENTY FIVE!) makes me want to hyperventilate. Which is dangerous when surrounded by twenty five blazing candles.

Which brings me to another list and another bullet point: One of the things on my "do not forget" list is about aging -- do it with grace.

This seems simple enough, right? Age gracefully. Well, piece of cake. (Sorry. Yuk, yuk.) I don't even have to DO anything to age, so I'm halfway there already, right? I realize that. The rub lies in the second part. The gracefulness part.

I have some trouble with this because I am not, physically, verbally or otherwise, graceful.

Here's me, in Polaroid:

Bull in china closet.
Emphatic, passionate, remarkably naieve.
Shotgun-like manner of speaking.
Uncanny ability to embarrass myself, in almost any situation.
Zeal for life that more often than not results in me speaking shotgun-esquely about something more than likely inappropriate while walking quickly, emphatically, which usually ends badly... again, think: walking directly into planter boxes (I had no idea it was right directly in front of me!) or off curbs (it was the heels!) or into other people (clearly, CLEARLY not my fault!).

I am clumsy. And I am rapidly approaching my twenty fifth birthday. Rapidly, and clumsily.

I haven't a clue how to usher in this new year, which is saturated with the rank reek (alliteration, anyone?) of adulthood. I picture me, in a few short weeks, twenty five...

Gone is the sweet, warm scent of my skin after a day in the sun, because gone are the weekends of blissful release. Gone are the built-in excuses about being young and foolish and a little self-destructive. I am suddenly, and entirely, a woman. With responsibilities, and a future that I have begun to picture (against my will, almost as if biologically) in an entirely new and more domestic way. A few kids, perhaps. A couple girls and a boy. A dog (shaggy, smiley, multi-colored). A garden (carrots, herbs, raspberries and red potatoes). A job, full wine racks, a book club where you do something entirely different than drink wine, gossip and apologize for not reading the last 10 chapters.

While I'm really enjoying this vision, or parts of it, I am having trouble breaking up with the girl inside me who just wants to laugh too loudly and swear in public and take shots of whiskey after 1 a.m. And this worries me, because I want to do this thing right, gracefully. And I'm a little more worried because my track record with grace isn't so hot.

For example, I have still never taken a compliment gracefully. I say silly, glib things or throw a quick barb and pretend to be witty instead. I can't say I've often responded with grace to an insult, either. Oh, no. I instead dive angrily into the mud, throwing it about like a toddler in a fit of rage. Or worse, I cry -- quietly and privately in a bathroom or closet at first and then, later, like a colicky infant in the privacy of my bathtub or car. Or both. And, while in the real dew of youth, I was often gracelessly either far too sure of myself and "together", which had the strange effect of baffling, intimidating or stifling many of my peers; or far too childish, inconsolably giggly and euphoric or disruptively naieve.

I am worried that I will become one of those mid-to-upper twenties somebodies who is unconsciously clinging to their junior year of college. I don't want to have to explain at a bar one night after to many vodka Red Bulls that I have a job, of course, and I'm really responsible on the weeknights, and that I'm just letting loose a little. And I don't want to flirt mercilessly just to prove something: I want to mean it. I would like to lithely maneuver into this new part of my life, holding close the innocence, but embracing something wiser; striding headlong into the unknown without my backpack of silly trinkets (slap bracelets, mind games, keg-stands and push-up bras).

But, I have to say, it was comforting when people just looked at me, a girl, flushed with youth, sitting cross-legged in the corner booth at the restaraunt eating her Reuben for breakfast, fogging the window with her breath, pressing her fingers into the condensation and drawing pictures there -- and thought that was okay, because that's what you do when you have nowhere else to be. When you're really not anyone, yet, you have every excuse in the world. Go ahead: fuck up! No one expects much of you, anyway. Or if they do, when you slip they'll certainly let it go, at least. How could you know better? You're heady with irresponsibility, and everyone knows and envies it.

But alright. I'm doing it, this grace thing. I've committed. And although it's scary, and I am more alone than ever, I'm up to it. That ridiculous sense of "do you double dare me?" might actually be something worth hanging on to. Along with a little broken shard of something I think I've just determined:

To age gracefully, (no, to nurture my own grace, perhaps), I am starting small. I am first finding grace in my life at this moment. Well, I'm looking. And when I find a glimmer of it, maybe I'll try believing it. And perhaps by recognizing it in the difficult decisions, or allowing it to creep in as the descriptor of the way I handle my own fears (of everything -- heights, disaster, ruined love, gained love, myself, failure, success, other people's feet), I can become practiced at it.

And perhaps then, after Grace and I have been agknowledging each other for a while, we'll just sorta call a truce. Maybe she'll even move in.

That would be nice, I think.
I mean, I'm pretty sure it would be nice to just say thank you, no punchline, and let there be silence after. And it would be nice, maybe, to stop the clumsy fumbling that came with the inexperience of youth. (Well, and also I'm certain I'm nearly out of unbruised real estate on my shins, and it would be a pity to fall and scrape up such a beautiful, sophisticated new suit.)

Twenty five is a nice, solid number. Don't you think?


Drew said...

But, I have to say, it was comforting when people just looked at me, a girl, flushed with youth, sitting cross-legged in the corner booth at the restaraunt eating her Reuben for breakfast, fogging the window with her breath, pressing her fingers into the condensation and drawing pictures there -- and thought that was okay, because that's what you do when you have nowhere else to be.

Holy crap, Liz, that's really, really good. Like, kinda-serious episode of Gilmore Girls good. I guess eloquence, much like menopause, comes with age? Just kidding. Really though, that was beautifully put. I fully expect you to say something glib in response, so go for it.

After an exam at 12:30 today, I'm officially done college forever (!!!!), so I'm going to be back into the Trapper Juan-ing. I might even do that "five weird things about yourself" thing that I promised I would do sometime during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Trebuchet said...

On the Gilmore Girls -- funny you should mention it, because just today I caught my boss sneaking out of the office building with a shopping bag full of old episodes of the same. He swore up and down they were for his wife, but I'm not so sure...

Yes, it's been a while, TJ. Get at it, wouldja? And now you're right -- you're totally required to do that stupid ass post you (foolishly) agreed to during the Clinton administration.

geoff p said...

found your blog by mistake - so glad i did:) great blog
geoff p

auntiegrav said...

Just got back from my daughter's wedding (she's 25 in June) in Floriduh Consumptoplex. Lots of fodder there for me to work on when I get some time. Talked with my refreshingly misanthropic niece also. Between her, her butch friends, and myself, it's probably "Curtains For the Free World!"

25 huh? Now you can rent a car. Yippee. Don't forget to fill it up before you return it. The going rate is 6.00 a gallon if you don't.

Wedding trivia: 4 complete couples of parents for the bride and groom. She and I danced to "White Wedding" and awed the crowd. My toast is on my blog under 'Wedding'. I present these bits to satisfy the Spectacle Groupies out there.

Trebuchet said...

Geoff, dear, I'm tripping a little about the fact that you're affiliated with (or, rather, ARE?) the Guinea Pig Association.