Bent Words

Bent Words

February 17, 2006

I can honestly say that no one has ever described me, ever, as being grown up. I've been described as 12 or 2 and once I think someone used "she's 16" as an excuse for my stupidity. That was when I charged my Dad's car into the scenery less than a quarter mile from the house. Usually, when people describe me, the words 'childish intrigue' tend to spill forth or their impressions of me hold a poetic tone like 'youthful gaze' and 'immature imbecile.'

Oh, and I can be all of those things...

Quite successfully.

So I suppose the whole idea of growing up doesn't really hit you -- you don't wake up knowing you've grown up. Maybe, if you're lucky, you just realize you've become a little less stupid. Moving out of the home I grew up in sure didn't make me feel older or wiser. I felt like a scared and manic little two year old who had all of the lights in the house go out on her. I had not a clue about anything and this included the garish 'how the flipping HELL do I do my own laundry?!' phase.

Then, after I had learned how to separate whites from anything red, I was all alone. I had moved an hour's distance away from my parents and the guy that I had moved in with, well, moved out. I really was in the dark then since no one mentioned that I had to put the stupid electric bill in my own name if I wanted light after 8:00 p.m.. Seventy candles could not have been less romantic. At least all the food in my fridge went bad so I didn't have to worry about gorging myself full of food because I was depressed and scared. That was good.

Eventually I even got a bed. And forks. And a really flowery whale of a sympathy couch.

But just because I was all on my own, didn't mean that I felt grown up.

To pass the time, I immersed myself into my work. I worked hard while I was at work, for ten+ hours a day, and then brought even more work home. I got used to the idea of candle light, even though I had electricity by then, and I wrote letters to people who would never read them. With actual paper and pens, that is. I still have most of those letters. Somewhere.

The work became more and more difficult but I put more and more of myself into it. It's how I defined me and it's how I paid the rent. It's how I was able to order a pizza and tip so well that my local pizza delivery guy knew my order after my number popped up on his screen.

"The usual, Laura?"

"The usual twenty minutes late, Joe?"



I became good at living on my own and working my ass off. Dreaming at night and waking early in the morning. Feeling as though I were on vacation every day because this place always seemed to change on me. The people who passed through or didn't pass through. The way I would re-arrange the furniture or find in the morning that I must have been crocked the night before because every single book that I owned was mysteriously placed in a neat mile-high pile in the middle of my barren living room. It was strange, but it was me.

Not grown up, though.

Even when I wasn't alone again and thought that I had grown up quite a bit, such was not the case.

There I existed in me some sort of impossible fairy tale. I walked around with my magic wand in my back pocket thinking that I could heal the world; thinking that I could make them see the really real me. But that was just a tire gauge in my back pocket. Great for guys on bikes with sixty pounds of pressure in their front tire but the miracle working ended there. I guess I just didn't realize that, though.

I truly believed that if I just held on and if I just kept plugging through all the bad stuff, that someone would see my struggle and make it all worthwhile.

The 'someone' was the someone else that I put all my troubles on. I expected this miscillaneous person to shoulder the grief and make my life better.

I don't think I ever really realized until just now that that someone was supposed to be me.

And it's not that I was a complete moron, although I am quite sure that I was in the running, it was just that I truly believed someone else would change my world. Naturally, because of that thought process, I was utterly powerless and eventually driven to my wit's end. I could not see the 'out' for I never even put myself in charge! Who was I expecting to come along and dig down in five feet of dirt to save me?

If you don't climb, if you don't crawl, if you don't scratch and if you don't save yourself, you just become weak. If you just wait for 'someone' to come along with a shovel, you're gonna be waiting quite awhile. And who knows if they'll come at all -- before you run out of air.

I used to say 'no regrets,' and, mostly, I still do. But there was a point in time when I really lost myself waiting for that someone else. I was so concentrated on them that I forgot about me. It occurred to me one day, as I was standing in the middle of my living room where the pile of books had once been. I, for some reason, could not recall if that was really the way I stood. No, seriously, the physical way in which I stood seemed all wrong. Sure as shit, when I walked over to the mirror, all I saw was misery. A goal missed, a moment lost, a life forgotten. It was all there, staring back me; the truth. In letters bigger than that pile of dirt I had crawled under.

Hell, I don't know if this means that my Mom will walk up to me and suddenly realize that "I'm all grown up." In fact, I highly doubt it.

I'm still a kid, through and through.

I think I just learned to stand up straight.

Written at 10:55 p.m.