Saturday, November 24, 2007

Capture my youth in a bottle...

If only we could capture our youth in a bottle to be sent to us at another time in our life, when we need it the most.

The Sunday Scribblings quandary of how our youth was spent is a strikingly apropos prompt for this week. In fact, as I type I sit in my room while my entire family sits in other rooms of the house, talking, reminiscing, planning for holidays, and other generalized conversation. Me being in my room is pretty atypical of my personality and my behavior...but much needed in this moment.

How did I misspend my life? Initially my answer felt easy: I grew up too fast. I was having adult conversations at eight, speaking with ease and comfort in large meetings at nine, celebrating events and birthdays with friends decades older than I. While I had friends my age I also considered (and still do) my parents' friends my own. I worked jobs as soon as I could - sometimes having many at a time.

Was this really misspent? That's a hard word for me to use. Misspent makes me think of the huge order I placed with CafePress a few months ago or the amount of money Eric and I spent on fast food in August of 2006.

The difficulty in labeling something as misspent invokes some notion that value was not realized. My youth, and my life learning process, are full of mistakes, missteps, errors in judgment, wrong questions, answers sought from bad sources...but isn't that all part of it?

How do we say that we misspent a time in our life? Is the answer that misspent time is time we would go back and change or do differently? If that is the case, then my reality is that none of my youth was misspent.

Yes, I grew up fast. I find myself at 29 trying to 'learn' how to relax, to take things slow, to undo adult-sized habits. I have moments were I wish I could run as fast and as far as I can from 'adult' responsibility. Sure there are things I wish I would have learned earlier or taken advantage of. Maybe I wouldn't have taken the promotion, or maybe I would have traveled to Europe or waited to get married, or focused on friends my age group, or maybe I wouldn't have changed anything. Responsibility seems to stick to me like cat hair.

Yet the world experiences I have had are built like a domino train upon each other. Taking one out would completely change the way my other dominoes fell. There are parts of my life, even right this minute, that I would love to be different. In no way, however, would I risk changing everything by 're-spending' a minute of my youth...


grace said...

This is a beautifully written piece! I also grew up too fast, being the eldest of 6 children. I can do groceries at 7, with a list and money and I attended my own class PTA meeting at 9 because my parents were too busy with other babies...:-)

I don't count them as 'misspent' though because it taught me how to be independent at a very young age -- a tool very important in adult life!

gautami tripathy said...

AS a teacher, I find it difficult to accept children wanting to grow up fast. We adults are to be blamed for that. May be we push them too much.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I also think its really difficult to define any time as mis-spent.

tumblewords said...

Misspent is a strange word and subject to a variety of interpretations, for sure. I enjoyed reading your post!