I’m having chocolate cake for breakfast.
This, in itself, is not all that remarkable. Lots of people have cake for breakfast. But it is one of the many ways that I’ve been regressing back into the 12-year-old version of myself lately.
Remember what it was like to be twelve? Well, I was a late bloomer, so maybe you need to imagine what it was like to be nine or ten, to get the picture. At twelve, I was still playing Barbie dolls in my free time. I was also jumping from the top of my swing set, exploring creek beds, and trying out new nail polish colors while I swooned over River Phoenix in Stand By Me. At twelve, I could have cared less what my hair looked like, or what anyone thought of my loud laughter as I shared an entire carton of ice cream with my best friends, sitting on the curb by our neighborhood grocery. At twelve I was me. Completely me.
John says I was still like that in high school–not caring what I did or said–and that’s why he liked me. I don’t know. I feel like somewhere along the way, I became like every other girl: putting on makeup before I went to work; spending money on things to look nice, but that aren’t really necessary; toning down my laughter and sarcastic commentary around certain people. Pretending that I’m more interested in my kid’s college funds (which are basically non-existent) than I am in the sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth.
And then lately I just stopped caring again. It probably started when I quit my job and re-invented my consulting business. Since I no longer needed to wear office appropriate clothing, I started wearing what feels good to me–jeans and t-shirts, flip-flops. Since I no longer had to censor what I say on social media, or this blog, I started writing like myself again. Since I only have to please myself, I only have to take on clients and work with people who I genuinely like to work with. Since I make my own time, I spend it freely doing silly things, because I’m a pretty silly person.
Then it started spilling over into other parts of my life. My kids are older now, and I no longer have to spend a great deal of time teaching them to behave, so I started giving them more responsibility for themselves. Choose your own clothes for picture day–I don’t mind. Take down the cute wall art in your room and hang a thousand posters of Dewey the Cat–I don’t care. At this very moment they are participating in the neighborhood yard sale without me. I would worry what the neighbors think, about them hanging from the tree out front and about them selling toy tractors for $5 (ridiculous rip off), but I just don’t. And also they seem to be making money, somehow.
It’s more than the kids, too. I’ve stopped doing things I don’t want to do, just to avoid hurting other people’s feelings. And I’ve stopped censoring what I say, and started sharing what’s actually on my mind, even when I know I risk complete ridicule. I announced on Facebook that I eat Nutella out of the jar with a spoon (every day for lunch, actually) and I hung a full size movie poster of Katniss on my office wall because, despite not being a lesbian, I might be slightly in love with her.
And I’ve discovered that the people who still seem to want to be with me are the people I was drawn to most, anyway. Like the connections you form with your very best friends when you’re twelve years old. Like when you sneak out of the house together to climb the walls at Henry Clay’s Garden and tell ghost stories, and then later snuggle down into your Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag to dream about Disney World and Tom Cruise in Top Gun.
I guess it’s just that now that my kids are getting to an older stage, I can’t help joining in the fun. I know the house needs to be cleaned, but if they’re watching Goonies and eating chocolate cake, then so am I.
So maybe I am regressing. Or maybe, I’m just being me. And I really like being me.