Friday, August 20, 2010

Ain't It Just Like A Middle Child: Thoughts on Being In-Between

I’m living in the land of the in-between. I’m in-between three jobs, in-between siblings (older sister, younger brothers). I'm in-between being an adult and not being on my own. I'm in-between wanting to spend all my time writing on this blog and thinking that it's highly unlikely I'll have all that much to say about myself.

I’m in-between my summer season and the fall semester I’m headed to in Washington, DC. Everywhere I turn people seem to be wondering “where I’m at” and “how I’m doing” and “am I getting excited for Washington??” – to which I long to reply, “Yes, I’m excited, I’m doing well, and I’m standing right in front of you!” I know I shouldn’t be impatient. People need to ask those questions, and want to feel connected to the thing I’m setting off to do. But the truth is I haven’t given much thought to my semester other than, “Have I turned in my paperwork?” and “What should I sent to ASP in the big package I have to mail Monday morning?”

It’s been a summer about now. When I write that it sounds peaceful (and unlike me, the Queen of Impatience!), and unfortunately trite. But I don’t mean forgetting the future or the past, or losing ourselves in our feelings or even spending long hours just breathing in one nostril and out the other (although a friend once gave me an article about how that exercise lowers your blood pressure, which I found very interesting). I am all for clear thinking, for driving the cars of our lives straight ahead without crashing into others or endangering ourselves. I am all about movement forward.

But this summer I’ve been at home in "now", my movements strangely cyclical: drive to work, work, drive home, drive to coffee at Starbucks with a friend, go to church… summer has lumbered by me slowly but surely and I am grateful for it. And it’s been about now: am I loving my family well now, am I listening carefully to the story of my friend’s self-discovery in this moment, am I working well within the boundaries I’ve tried to create for myself? And to be completely honest, now that the time to start thinking about the future appears to have arrived abruptly and without warning, I am strongly tempted to plant my feet firmly in the ground and stay put.

But before my legs start growing trunks, and my hands turn green and leafy (have you ever wondered if that could actually happen – like when your mother tells you you’ll turn orange if you eat too many carrots?), I’m left without a choice. I’ll be headed to Washington no matter what, grinding some dust and generally calling it a day in Massachusetts. In many ways I just don't want things to change; I don't want this season to fade away. But as a good friend said to me last night over coffee (I bet if my dentist saw the amount of teeth-staining beverages I consume in a week she would fall over in a dead faint), it matters what we do. I am settling into the idea that, whether or not I feel in-between, unwilling or nervous, what I'm going to do is get on the plane on Thursday morning and fly to Baltimore, MD. What I'm going to do is swallow the huge lump in my throat, grab my two old, tattered suitcases and my staple gray cardigan, and get off the plane. What I'm going to do is breathe in and out and in and out again, and walk forward.

My season of "now" - of the days blurring together into one long sunny stretch of time, of the big belly laughs with my family, of the cupcakes brought to the office to celebrate various birthdays - is ending. My new season: of wearing high heels, exploring Georgetown and waking up to the Capitol building sitting serenely in front of me is just around the corner. And so, as a middle child who finds transition troubling, as an in-between girl, as a lover of "the summer of now" - I'm ready to step out of in-between and into the next season, the next now.

Goodnight, goodnight.

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