Monday, August 10, 2009

quarter life crisis part i

It's no good when your nomadic twenty-five year old heart finds a place to worry in its teeth like a mutt with a bone. When your vacations whittle down and yet your surroundings stay lodged like a shard in your heart. When home is such a foreign idea that you belong nowhere.

But this place has started to feel like home. Day trips in the hills wind finally around the corner onto the Bord de Mer and my body sinks back into the passenger seat with relief. The rhythm here has settled under my skin; it is as if I have swallowed the clock and my heartbeat depends upon it ticking. Waking up in the garden of Eden is no longer unreal. Sitting on the terrasse looking out through the frame of a painting is by no means ordinary, but it has become custom. The corners of the house have softened; I can navigate them in the dark.

The person I am here no longer surprises me. I have written all my postcards and taken all of my pictures. I've browned to the deepest shade of bronze my Irishness will allow. We've had all our fancy meals and my palette has narrowed to accommodate only what springs up in the markets. My daily choices are few and simple. Piscine or plage. Sandwich or salad. Walk or read.

I suppose you could—and should—say that I am spoiled. I am the first to admit that queens have had it harder. I am the luckiest woman I know. This month has restored me like a crumbling ceiling frieze. My little pictograms and bas-reliefs are now marching across me in reassuring stone, all telling the same story. Clear and calm.

It's only now that the end lurks around the weekend corner on the calendar that the questions rise like a rip tide and start churning. Who am I really. What am I doing. Where do I belong.

Maybe nowhere, maybe here, maybe I have no business making decisions so young. But the first quarter stretch of my life's relay has been swum; the next swimmer is perched on the platform ready to go. Surely this is a time to take stock. Particularly when people and places and moments have begun to snag on my heart. Memories have started to wash up on my shore like driftwood. Soon my island will be covered—laden—and I will sink from the weight of it.

It's the little things that will kill you. For example: The other night my boyfriend's mother (whom I adore beyond words) loudly announced me to an influx of company by proclaiming, "She's one of us." That simple declaration made me feel part of something in a way I never have.

Mind you, this is the same woman who, in the past two weeks, has twice suggested I consecrate my relationship with her son by the fountain in her Provencal olive garden—and also offhandedly tried to set me up with her friends' son (before she remembered exactly how she knew me and recanted, of course).

I want nothing more than to make this woman happy. (I want nothing more than to make me happy.) So marrying her son in this plot of heaven, surrounded by herbs and bees, then populating its rooms with grandchildren, is my dream as much as hers. But it has become increasingly apparent that her son A) does not believe in marriage and B) does not believe in children. Not to mention the unmentionable C): his Peter Pan complex. What do you do when you have found your husband and he's unwilling to grow up?

I know this all sounds terribly selfish and dramatic (and much more personal than usual), but I'm worried that when next I blink my eyes I will be forty and childless and still treading water. I think I want to grow up now. I think I want to pack my rucksack and set up shop somewhere that feels like home, with someone who feels like home. Which is not to say I want a big white wedding tomorrow. I don't. I have a lot of youth to waste yet, and many more months to pilfer chasing rainbows. But the world is hard enough when you drift along rootless, trying to float your boat along all by yourself. Eventually you want someone on the other oar. Someone who really wants to be there.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Don't listen to him. Children do exist. I've seen them. But also... the place isn't the same when you're worrying about naps and have to wake up to make sure the little one doesn't fall in the pool.

Take your time.

And when My mother said you were "one of us," I think she meant for as long as you want it to be that way, involved with Peter Pan or not.