I have never been a big fan of growing up. I was so distraught on my fifth birthday that I spent around twenty minutes standing at the top of the basement stairs with my face pressed into the corner as I sobbed. Unfortunately, I seem unable to rid myself of this habit, and the panic of maturation strikes me around once a month.
While I do enjoy looking at how my analytical skills have improved and how much more knowledge I now possess, I cannot get over my peers’ and my progressive loss of innocence.
I was in the shower a few days ago, thinking about books, and I suddenly remembered reading The Outsiders in seventh grade. I wasn’t a huge fan of it–the gangs and disobedience held no appeal and upset me quite a bit–but it does one redeeming quality. At some point, Johnny is talking to Ponyboy and he recites the Robert Frost poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay as “an analogy for the fleeting innocence of youth”. Now, I like modern poetry quite a bit, and I really like Frost, so I memorized the end of it and repeat it to myself from time to time whenever I think about growing up.
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
I try to preserve that gold for as long as I can. It’s a foolish effort and almost always brings me a lot of grief. I get so wrapped up in the securities of my past that I almost never accept change with grace. When the boys started cursing on the playground in sixth grade, I cried. It was clear that childhood was coming to a close, and adolescence would be soon begin. Later, at thirteen, I remember picking up one of my dolls and feeling like I didn’t know what to do with them anymore. I was entirely at a loss and went off to read the New York Times. I still keep three of my dolls in my room, weirdly hopeful that maybe it was all a fluke and that I’ll suddenly be able to play with them again.
I’ve dragged my feet through every milestone event (with the exception of getting my ears pierced when I was ten), and the fact that I’ll be a legal adult in less than three weeks is terrifying. I mean voting is nice and all, but I’d still like to think that stupid is a dirty, dirty word and that using “bathroom talk” will get you a time-out.
Though, truth be told, I am excited to become an adult and have capital R Responsibilities. I just want to think about it as a event that’s going to happen far, far in the future. Something that I can imagine and speculate about and not something to begin planning for. And while I do want to leave behind the emotional pain of my childhood and adolescence, I just want it to happen now with out any significant maturation.
But the thoughts that I’ve written here aren’t constant. Somedays, I’m desperate to grow up and love how mature I’ve become. People my age are so much more interesting than before, and they’re only going to continue to get that way. Besides, I would never want to be seventeen forever.