Tuesday, July 17, 2012

on growing up.

via here.
i was riding the subway to go see some old co-workers last week, when i spotted two girls, probably 17 or 18, sitting across from me, posing for silly self-portraits with one's iphone. they made funny faces, and kissed the camera, and crossed their eyes, and sultrily pouted for the camera. they were the definition of a teenager - yearning to be adults but not yet ready to leave childhood. and i slowly smiled to myself, amused by their theatrics.
then, just like a real new yorker, i teared up on the subway. out of nowhere.
i think part of it was taking heart in seeing teenagers being teenagers - i know, i only saw a glimpse into who these young women were, but that fact that 17-year-old girls still take silly pictures in public, not caring who sees, made me happy.
but i think it mostly came from their presumed innocence. there is much more i know through life experience, and so much more they have yet to discover. each heartache and painful shift in worldview, each success and failure, each pat on the back and disappointment rushed through me. right in that instant, just from watching two strangers. so much you yearn to want to stay the same, to keep your innocence, yet so much you want to grow up and truly feel alive by experiencing all that life has to offer.
i rushed out of the subway at my stop. past the world trade center memorial, past the building where i worked 100-hour week after 100-hour week in my first job in new york, to a waiting glass of white wine. past opportunities and failures and achievements that i never knew at the age of 17 had been waiting for me in downtown manhattan. once at the restaurant i listened to stories of separation and reconciliation in a marriage that had been on the brink, a job that was perfect sullied by a horrible boss, an internal struggle on whether to get married now that gay marriage was legal in new york and an option for a couple. i listened to heartaches, laughs, questions, jokes, sighs of discontent, sighs of content. i nodded, i gave advice where i could. i told my own stories.
the night dwindled and we walked along the twinkling lights of the hudson, heading back to our homes in jersey, long island and, for me, just uptown. and i thought of those girls. how one day they may catch up over a glass of wine, comparing notes on husbands, jobs, life. it doesn't get easier, that's for sure, from when we took silly pictures and worried about getting summer jobs. but we grow up. we learn more than we knew was possible. we accept more and develop compassions we never knew we had. we live more. fuller, richer, deeper. that is how we live. it comes with a price, the process of growing up, but i do think it's worth every bittersweet cent.

23 comments:

  1. I love your deep posts. I think it's because I always really connect to them.

    Growing up is very bittersweet for me as well. I LOVED my childhood with all my heart, and often look back on that time and get teary thinking of just how innocent I was. But then, I am loving my life right now and I'm excited about the future, too. And I'm better for all of the experiences that have happened to me along the way-- fuller, like you said. And I'm so thankful for that.

    But still, I have those days and moments when I just wish I was a kid again. It doesn't happen too often, but when it does it hits me hard. OH, Nostalgia. You keep me honest.

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    1. I know - you don't want to go back yet you do. but it really is better, I think, to have it be fuller, as I can't think of another way to describe it.

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  2. love the black and white pics!!
    Follow my blog on http://laviecestchic.blogspot.com hope you like and join it, you're always the welcome!!
    kisses and Thank you

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  3. Mmm hmm girl this was said so well. Oh how I cherish my childhood but wouldn't want to go back because you're right - life is FULLER and RICHER the more and more we experience it. Love this.

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    1. when this comment started with "mmm hmm" I knew it would be good :)

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  4. Another beautiful post. We never know what life has in store for us, but we just have to be willing to go along for the ride with reckless abandon.

    On another note, this post reminds me of the episode of How I Met Your Mother, where they tell Robin she isn't a real New Yorker because she hasn't ever cried on the subway before (amongst other things).

    *Erin

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    1. it's so true - its an absolute requirement to be a new Yorker.

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  5. I love how you think and then the way you communicate your thoughts in a way that I can totally relate to. You should write a book! Seriously, you have so many good, deep posts on here. Your blog makes me realize that I don't stop and think enough throughout my day like I used to... I need to get better at that.

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    1. hah - you are too kind! sometimes the subway can be a less than ideal mode of transportation, but when you're surrounded by that many people from different walks of life it definitely helps get the deep thoughts going.

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  6. This is unbelievably beautiful. So well written. Such a real reflection on How Things Are.

    I also love the sound of your evening...all that wonderful conversation and wine. =)

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    1. how things are. such a good way to put it.

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  7. I love the way you wrote this post. I can totally relate. I miss being a teenager, sometimes, because it was a more carefree time. With maturation comes responsibility - unfortunately.

    http://www.glamkittenslitterbox.com/
    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

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  8. Oh the things I would love to say to my 17 year old self! My teenage years were by no means care-free (although I do remember posing for silly pictures... still do) but for me, I am so much happier now than I was at 17. 25 is the new 17!

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    1. hah - it is indeed. who knows what 33 will bring us!

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  9. I love this. I'm 24 and still take crazy funny pictures in public, especially when I'm with my sister. lol. Fabulous post, love! If you get a sec, I'd love to hear your thoughts on my latest post for LaurenConrad.com. xo

    www.fashboulevard.blogspot.com

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    1. indeed so do i. they mostly occur at around christmastime.

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  10. Growing up... it's never as glamorous as they'd have you believe on tv shows or movies. To be a teenager again, when all you worry about is if you're "cool" or not or if that boy in your English class likes you. There's nothing like summer that makes me want to be a teen more. But then again, you're right. Life right now is pretty darn sweet. Fought for and sweet.

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  11. This is so beautiful. I've been reflecting on this a lot lately, too... how it seems like a lifetime ago, and, yet, at the same time, it all seems to go by so quickly! How is that possible?!

    p.s. I think I need a Dawson's Creek marathon, ha! xo.

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  12. aww, this is so sweet, and i can definitely relate to your sentiments. i have younger siblings, and sometimes i think it would be so great to be their age again.

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  13. You're such a great writer Colleen. I could fully picture everything you described as if I had experienced it myself. Maybe because I have in my own growing up process? This was beautiful and so easy to relate to.

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  14. I love this post! I found your blog through e tells tales, (I liked your comment using Virginia Wolfe). Anyway, just thought I would drop by to say hi...and thanks for your post reminding us how much we all need those growing experiences. Innocence is good, but so is experience.

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  15. Brilliant. I love this post :) You have such a way with words!

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