A while back, Jamie and I needed to run an errand at a department store—which is something we almost never do—and while we were there, we decided to replace our worn bath towels. I picked up a stack and carried them to the register. Jamie asked, “Are these towels really nice?” and I said, “They’re fine. When we’re really grown up, we’ll get the nice ones.”
I didn’t think anything about it at the time, and Jamie didn’t question it, but later I asked myself, What was I talking about? Would I ever feel really grown-up?
Sometimes, it’s hard to accept that I’m living my one, true life. As an adult, I’d never lived the suburban life I experienced as a child, and it seemed as though it still awaits me, a stage of life yet to happen, when I’d drive in a carpool and worry about gutters. In some ways it felt as though my life hadn’t really started yet, and that my present was preparation for the real life I’d have in the future.
On the other hand, I often have the strange feeling that I’ve jumped from prologue to epilogue. At first, I’d feel that “It’s too early, too soon, there’s plenty of time,” and suddenly the experience would flip to “It’s too late, the time has passed, that’s over.” Somehow I skipped being at the center of an experience.
I reminded myself: This is my real life; these are my real towels; now is when the chrysanthemums in the tree-wells glow bright yellow in the clear autumn light.