Thursday, September 4, 2008

I'm a Big Kid Now!

I started reading Gone With the Wind in seventh grade. Something about attemping to read my Biggest Book Ever made me feel like a grown-up. Of course, I was about 12 years old, and felt very far from being a grown up.

I have a distinct memory of the very night I began to read that book. I thought about Future Valerie. Grown-Up Valerie. Not necessarily Married Valerie, or Mom Valerie, but certainly Adult Valerie. Someone who bought her own clothes, drove her own car, had a job, paid bills, had finished college, made her own dinner.... That was my vision of myself 10 or 15 years down the line. And because that future self felt so distant, I felt like I didn't know this person. And I felt like this person wouldn't know me. So I seared into my memory that night I started that very big book. I made myself remember exactly who I was and what I felt like at that moment. I didn't want to forget me.

I realize this sounds pretty silly to you. And it probably doesn't make much sense. You wonder why I am even bothering to write about that night here. Well here is your reason, dear reader: I recently realized that I had become Future Valerie.

Weird, right? But think about it-- I am that person! I am the one that Past Valerie worried about. The me I am right now is the me I was afraid would become someone else. Someone completely different. I am the Adult Valerie that has a job in Marketing. I buy my own shoes. I pay for my apartment. I get myself to church on Sundays, and I volunteer to bring food to Bible study. I plan trips to other cities, and have friends in other states. I am responsible for me. Future Val. Current Val. I am a grown-up.

Or at least, I suppose I am. Because being an adult means you have your name on a little rectanlge piece of plastic, right? You think about things like insurance and coupons and gas and laundry when you're a grown-up. You adjust the temperature on your thermostat when you leave your house. When your crazy front door lock is sticking you fix it all by yourself. People ask you if you've been watching any of the Republican National Convention. You go to an office every day, and have business cards and to-do lists and time sheets. You are responsible!

But really, it seems like I was just that kid reading Gone with the Wind, you know? I was just outside playing on the trampoline. Ginger and I were just playing keepaway with my little brother's stuffed dog to make him cry. I remember climbing that big oak tree in the front yard. I remember pulling out the Barbies. And I'm still that kid that looked forward to the Balloon Festival. I'm still that kid that took piano lessons and acted in the school plays.

So I may be surprised to find myself an adult, but...I did it! I made it here, and I acheived my goal: not only did I become Future Val, but I remember what it was like to be Past Val. Little Val. Gone with the Wind Val.

We're both still here.


~lady j said...

aww... this is sweet. and cool.

and i love the Vals. All of them. :)

Prosso said...

Aww little Val!

Katie said...

Madeleine L'Engle says that even when she is fifty-one, she is also four, and thirteen, and twenty-two, and all the ages she has been. She knows how to remember, and I'm glad you've learned the trick too.

I also love all the Vals I've known, and am excited to keep on knowing the future iterations of Val. :)