Wednesday, July 13, 2011

open letter to adulthood

Dear sister,

As you know, these past few weeks have been pretty hard. The odd thing is that the pain and drama of my own day-to-day is now largely in the immediate past (thank goodness). What has hit me so hard this month is the pain of some of my closest friends who themselves are fine, but worry and grieve for their own loved ones. In the concentric circle diagram of my life, the central dot (me) is (finally) doing well, but the next few layers pulse with the pain of lived, and living, life.

On the phone with L the other day, we were thinking aloud about we feel a longing for childhood. Was the pain of the world less real to us then? Was it farther away? Or was it simply that, knowing less people, we therefore knew a relatively smaller amount of pain? As the circle of my world grows, the concentric layers of my relationships grow thicker. In times like these past few weeks have brought, it is hard to remember that adulthood promises to bring increased joy along with the increase of pain.

Dear adulthood,

I'm not so sure about you, these past few weeks. The father of a close friend beats cancer and then, three weeks later, dies of lung failure. Another close friend finishes grad school and moves across the country to be with her boyfriend and, one week later, he is hospitalized and fighting for his life. Another friend's elderly mother is dying. Someone else is in the hospital for surgery. And on. And on.

I know there are silver linings in all that has happened. That the father could have died last fall but lived to put his affairs in order, see his children come home, and arrange his goodbyes. That the diagnosis could have come while she was still living on the East Coast, unable to be at his side. That illness comes in the summer, when teachers are on vacation. That we have each other to lean on. That we still have laughter, light, and love to keep us going. That we know that this, too, shall pass.

But underneath all this turmoil I still have to deal with the mundane necessities of adulthood - finding an apartment, completing health insurance paperwork, worrying about rent and utilities and year-long leases with no job security, watching my parents grow old and even older, watching my friends get married and start families while I remain alone. I can handle all this, I know, for the joys of adulthood far outweigh the pains. After all, I willingly gave up the security of my parent's roof over my head and their food on the table, the relative ease of the daily high school routine, the freedom of the summer months and the luxury of regular week-long vacations.

It's just that I thought - nay, was promised - that the skin breakouts would go away as well.

It really seems like I shouldn't have to deal with that anymore.


I'm relying on routine and work to get me through the day, and the beauty of life and the love of friendship to get me through the week. Some days I look for creative things, to put something together in the face of all that has fallen apart. Decorations for Rolo's wedding. Cookies to send in care packages. Fresh bread. And some days I aim for the destructive, to feel some sense of order and control in all the unstable insecurity of the real world. Weeding becomes cathartic. Kneading becomes a release. Cleaning offers healing.

And when I am too tired to keep my eyes open anymore, I am finally able to get some sleep.

Much love,
your sister

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