by Trina McNeilly Is the end really the end or is it just the beginning? It’s arguable. So much so, that I argue with myself on the subject on a regular basis. The end of what, you ask? I suppose that could make all of the difference, but, no not really. The end of a relationship. The end of a job. The end of a season. The end of dream. The end of your sanity. Sometimes, I feel like I’m at the end of everything, although it probably appears to others that I am not at the end of anything. You know, the end of my rope, all I can take, all out of options, no where to go from here, that kind of thing. That kind of end.
I am at one of those ends. And I’m standing at the edge of end squinting my eyes for the smallest bit of beginning. I’ve always been able to see beginnings, pretty clearly even. But this time, my tired eyes are straining---straining in the search for a speck. If I get a glimpse, I’ll be good. At least that is what I tell myself.
I’ll stare down that speck of a beginning, that small piece of hope and I won’t take my eyes off of it. I’ll try my best to catch it and put it in my pocket. But than a beginning can never be hidden for long.
All beginnings must start with an end. And I think the end that I am at is my childhood. I know, strange words and an even stranger idea, coming from an almost 35-year-old mother of four. But the truth is, I’ve only ever felt like me. And the me I’ve always seen, when I walk past the mirror or hear myself in my head, is the 10 year old freckle-kissed kid, with a twinkle in her eye and plan up her sleeve. A girl who spent her days taking on the neighborhood by way of her royal blue 10 speed and splashing away any small concerns in the backyard pool. I had nothing to worry about except the plan I had for the next day or perhaps the rest of the summer.
I only ever wanted to grow up so I could be a school bus driver, try out for the Mickey Mouse Club, get my license, have a boyfriend, wear makeup, and grow boobs---all letdowns and disappointments concluded by age 16 . . . which led me back to the notion that being a kid is a way better deal.
But I grew up in the way that we all do. That is, in the way that we are supposed to. I got married, got a job, and had kids. And yet, although the mirror, daily, shocks me into reality, somehow, on the inside I still feel like my 10 year old self.
I have been waiting and I suppose just expecting that one day, someday, I’d wake up and feel like the adult that I surely should be. All of my Oprah watching days only led me to believe, and rightfully expect, that my 30’s would gift me with a new sense of self. Every 30-something on the show from movie stars, regular plain people, to Oprah herself said over and again that once they hit their 30’s they suddenly felt comfortable in their own skin. They knew who they were, what they wanted, who they were not, and what they did not want. The self-assured weren’t afraid to speak up for themselves and almost couldn’t care less what other people thought about them anymore. It was as if this confidence of ease magically took over their former unsure selves and no decision was a hard decision at this point because they just knew . . . knew themselves and knew what to do and certainly what not to do.
However contrived, that was my ideal of what it must really feel like to be grown up. Yes, I am idealistic. I am, in fact, a person with a lot of ideals. Sometimes and maybe even often, mistaken for being naive And wouldn’t you know, most of my ideals were configured, thought up, created and baked to perfection as a young one.
I told you I was at the end. And here is how I’m kind of, for the most part, certain that I am likely, and almost surely, at the end of my childhood . . . because, I’ve found myself at the end of many of my ideals. The grown up truth is that things are not always as they seem and certainly not always as you want them to be. The end.
Today, it’s “how do you do?” to the grown up me. It may still be a little ways off. But it is a speck that I can at least see. And no, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say goodbye to the hopeful freckle-faced me. But now, I can at least guide her and help her to be the woman she is supposed to be. The beginning.