That’s right, we are totally approved and official and have our own “pad”, complete with working fridge, stove and oven. We will be SAFE and independent, finally!
I’m still scared. Today has been filled with many degrading texts from the roommate, highlighting the many things that I am not good at and/or can’t do.
The truth is, her messages are upsetting, because, in a lot if ways, I know that she is right. I am not shy to admit that I am very much delayed on many fronts.
The loss of my dad and Jordan as a young teen was painfully isolating. I was at an age where girls generally start to depend more on their peer group and withdraw from their parents. Instead, my mother withdrew deep into her own sadness. I was left to stand alone, tethered to my own grief, mystified and horribly jealous of my friends’ ability to simply exist. 12 and 13 is pretty magical if you think about it, old enough to go to the mall alone… As long as you can find a ride, but not yet old enough to get a job. Capable enough to bake cupcakes occasionally, but content enough to trust that the shopping would be done and all meals provided.
I remember one day, while we waited to be picked up from swim practice, my friend, Danielle, was painting her nails our school colors, and excited about attending a football game later that night. We were so focused on simply existing in our house, everything we did was purely functional. I couldn’t fathom painting my nails, much less to match the school colors, or even having the courage to ask my mom for something “extra” like a ride BACK to school in the evening, just to watch some football. I went to school to get educated. That was the purpose that school served.
Our lives focused exclusively on objectives. We went to school to learn, ate to survive, had a couch to sit on, but no tv to sit in front of, and “ran to the store” to buy things that we needed. We didn’t “hang out” at school, cook to connect or unwind, our house wasn’t spotless, organized or decorated, MTV was a mysterious teen age secret, and I never “cruised the mall” with friends, window shopped or ogled over boy bands.
At the time, those things felt petty, and irrelevant. I saw them as distractions from my exclusive objective- existing.
Only now, I understand. Those things are quite pertinent. It’s social training. That’s where girls learn how to connect, interact, assert themselves, accept criticism, and cultivate style, independence and personal growth.
Socially, and personally, this experience left gaping holes in my development. I struggle to connect with people, I don’t know how to let loose or have fun. MTV is still a mystery. I wear jeans that are comfortable, my shirts are tagless, pink and usually gifted from others, handed down from my (much bigger) baby sister or appear in my luggage after visits with my mother. I don’t shop, but have very strict rules about clothes (are we shocked?) I wear rings that my parents gave me and never take them off. On days that I miss Rilind, I wear his photo necklace, but could never tell you if it matched. My hair is always messy and pulled back. I don’t care how it looks, as long as it doesn’t touch my neck. I like anything that is sparkley and/or pink… Even things that my evil roommate deemed tacky or clashing. My bedsheets are Hello Kitty, and If Barbie ran for president, I’d vote for her, just because her limo is pink.
In so many ways I am still 8.
Living alone isn’t just normal young adult scary, or even young anorexic adult scary… It’s like giving an 8 year old complete, unsupervised control.
I am terrified. But it’s done now. For the next 7 months, Avery and I will be independent women… Two puppies, completely uncontained.
Wish us luck.