My mother just told me she’s getting chickens put in her knees. This has evidently happened before, and will likely be an annual event until they run out of chickens, or she finds something that feels better. Like tofu crumbles. This inspiring occasion has provided me with an hour’s worth of chicken jokes that I have the humility, even if not the tact, to omit here.
But this occurrence is just pecking the surface of my lately. As my Someone turns thirty and I tag along ten months behind, each of our friends discovering the importance of buying houses and pursuing careers and adopting dogs, then finding dog walkers they can afford with their steady careers for those neglected dogs with the arrival of children, those moments I’ve been waiting for since age 5 are happening. Regularly. It is the way in which I am counting my grown-upness. Now, it is how I choose the word grown-up over adult for the sake of keeping the inner child alive. As if every day I am dusting off her tiny porcelain face, soon to be placed on the mantle and spoken as someone dead and gone, instead of the living creature inside me who still cries every time her head gets bumped. Or how I use the word lately with sighs and groans to accompany the fact that, any further back in the timeline, and I will get my memories mixed up due to my suspicion of early onset Alzheimer’s.
Yesterday, I counted my grown-upness in tomatoes, putting them to my nose to inspect dutifully, just like my mother did. And for once, not for the show of being a superior tomato-picker-outer, but rather in the humblest attempt to pick the best one for the most delicious sandwich. This was in tandem with counting out only one onion, because even in spite of a sale, we would have room only for one. These are grown-up decisions.
Two months ago, I dove head first from grown-upness as we moved into a little camper, selling what does and doesn’t matter in exchange for a tiny taste of freedom, only to be set squarely in the responsible decision of doing the living. I eat foods from farmers and trees. I concern myself with the rights of others. I make metaphors for families, and throw my hands up in a grown-up exasperated sort of way at the state of the world we live in, and I read books from top selling lists. I forget all of my passwords. I am finally afraid of dying. I decide when I sleep and when I eat, and I think less about what it means to be a grown up, and more about what it is to be a human.
Maybe having rooster combs in my bones is the way in which I will count my more grown-upness. Maybe it is next the fight against the aging. Or maybe this business of growing up is remembering that we do not grow out of ourselves like discarded clothes, but grow up, maintaining each of our ages like the rings in a tree.
Now, my center ring is oldest but most sensitive– a newborn’s perspective to my changing environment. Everything terrifying and wonderful. Every word simultaneously holy and plain chicken scratch.