This morning I woke up to the sounds of my dog’s paws on my parent’s kitchen hardwood floor. Wheezing in and out, his rhythm a little off due to a very old hip.
We’re all getting older now, and its times like these when I am amazed that another year of time has passed and I am back on my parents’ couch with the California sun waking me through the living room window.
In the airport last night, I sat and watched all the travelers move about the airport. Families, elders, my fellow solo mid-twenties, the handicapped, the flight attendants, the pilots, the janitor, the cafe workers, the security crew, all of them in their own lives moving about with their own experience and perspective. I spied two redhead boys climbing and jumping off sculptures, the mother chasing another redheaded toddler. I couldn’t help but stay attentive to this scene. I remember running about and playing hide and seek any chance I got. I didn’t think about pain if I jumped too high. I didn’t think about being kidnapped if I went to far; I was never lost and I was always found.
The older you get, it seems to more ‘lost’ we feel, we understand risk and we fear outcomes. We keep hoping one of these days someone out there will find us and if not that we find ourselves. We are waiting to be found.
As the coffee brewed, I began to whip up some pancake batter. My dad was the first to awake after me. He hugged me from behind, excited to see his daughter and also the promise of pancakes. We sat at the counter. He saw a bird resting on the telephone wire outside and told me to look. By the time I was in sight, the bird had gone and the wire bouncing to and fro. I didn’t need to see the bird to know it was there.
I thought about this as the wire echoed. Living far away from home feels like this. You don’t always need to see your family to know they are there, but what a joy it is to see them when you can.
My dad said it reminded him of a song and he left to go play it for me on the stereo. When he returned our pancakes and coffee were ready. And we ate listening to Bob Dylan’s “You’re A Big Girl Now.”
I thought about my own life and the age that I was approaching. As a kid you were always encouraged to be a big girl, which never meant a particular age, it meant you could cut your own meat, you could pick yourself up after you fell… you didn’t need training wheels anymore. It meant you could read on your own, you could share with others, and you could play with the big kids.
I grew up as the eldest, my sister forever the youngest. I was always the big girl, even when I didn’t feel like it. Not much has changed in the recent years. I’ve continued to try to be a big girl and there are often moments when I think I am less of a big girl. But, something always turns that insecure thought around. I’ve learned that cutting your own meat doesn’t have to be lonely. Even though life doesn’t hand you training wheels anymore, you know how to find your own balance and go from there. There’s no telling where your journey will take you, but finding balance will always support you through it.
In the airport, that mother’s baby girl was wobbling around and an increasing speed until her legs buckled, her baby sneaker dragged on the marble floor and her body fell forward. She caught herself with her hands. Her mother watched and let the whole thing happen. Her baby propped herself up and her mother scooped her up and spun her like a toy airplane to celebrate her achievement: Hands first: pick yourself up again. I thought, “You’re a Big Girl Now.”
In this moment in time, at the end of my 24th year, I am realizing that living is all about the fall and the return. You can’t avoid pain, the unexpected, the hurdles, the traffic jams, the loss, injury, battles, arguments, and misfortunes. You can pick yourself back up, and you can see this as a natural thing that happens all the time or you can choose to add it to your tallied list of things you had to overcome. I’m realizing when you stop counting the falls and simply roll with the punches, you become the Big Girl your parents always egged you on to be.
Instead of groaning about work, the people we’ve had ‘deal’ with, money we don’t have… my father and I ate in silence and saw the morning as an opportunity to just be. We starred out into the winter torn backyard, green moss covering the bricks and morning dew dripping from the telephone wire that had finished echoing from the bird’s departure, like ripples in the water, listening to this song.
“You’re A Big Girl Now” – Bob Dylan