How I Realized I Was “All-Grown Up” At Long Last

I’m still trying to clean out old files today, but keep coming across old things that slow my progress down to a crawl. I could be at this for awhile, folks, so you’ll never know how and when I’ll just throw in an entry or two from years ago. Finding things like this makes me wish I’d kept a journal more routinely for a lifetime, not just in fits and starts like I’m finding. So, to give me more time to fiddle and adjust and do a few new things to my blog today, here’s an entry from 11 years ago: 

 

Journal Entry: 3/13/96

How do you know when you’re really grown up? One of the surprising things to me as I grow older is how similar I feel to the way I felt at any age of my life yet lived. I asked my mother when we were celebrating at her birthday party, after she reached the ripe old age of 80, “how does it feel now that you’re 80 years old?”

She answered something to the effect that though she couldn’t get around as good, she felt exactly the same, inside, as she had when she was a young girl. She didn’t feel any more “grown up” now at 80 than she had at 8. So how in the world would I ever know when I was finally all grown up, when–as the Bible says–I would put aside childish things?

Well, today I have a clue. This morning I returned books to the library and sat for awhile browsing PEOPLE and QUILT magazines. There are usually lots of old men in comfortable easy chairs in the magazine section, sitting there with their belts above their belly buttons, always squinting over their glasses reading, seemingly with all the time in the world. It would be a good assumption that they’re all retired now.

I wonder what they did before, when they worked at jobs. I wonder if any of them are scientists with all kinds of mathematic formulas floating around their heads with nowhere to go now that they are too old to be of any use to big corporations. I hope they’re not bored with life.

Today, as one of them tippy-toed behind me on his way to the main part of the floor where the librarians’ desks are, I thought I heard a tiny “thhp”–you know–the kind of noise that sorta slips out so you’re not sure? It could as well have been a tiny hic cough, or a squeaky shoe. Then it’s a moment or two later, and I heard a good and well fart coming from the other direction where the man was now headed.

I had gotten so engrossed with a story about Princess Diana in the magazine I hadn’t noticed him pass by again. My head turned involuntarily toward this unaccustomed noise in such a quiet setting. Then I knew that, sure enough, he had farted. For a fraction of a second our eyes met, and I knew, and he knew that I knew.

The amazing thing was that I was able to maintain my composure and turn back to my magazine and turn the page to a new article, this one about Christopher Darden.

That’s when I knew! I was truly a grownup person at last. I didn’t even chuckle inside even though, as I think about it now, it still tickles me. I wonder which is the bigger perk of growing old, farting in public without worrying about it? Or learning not to react to it? 

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