I remember being cool. I remember knowing which bands were hot, which writer even hotter. I remember having vital, intelligent conversations that weren't work or child related. It's hard to remember that now from the vantage point of middle-aged motherhood, but as I reflect on this transformation I remember distinct signposts of my undeniable ascent into adulthood along the way.
I remember sitting on a cross-town bus in Manhattan, twenty-four years old, dressed in a good navy Tahari suit and carrying a briefcase. I was exhausted from my job at a computer firm, so I sat with my eyes closed imagining my soft and inviting bed. I was jolted to consciousness by a flurry of activity at the front of the bus. A group of young teenage girls was making its way to the back of the bus, swinging from strap to strap in a flurry of perfume and fruit-scented lip gloss.
I watched them as they chattered away, talking about this boy and that band, clicking their gum. As they adjusted their stylish black clothing I was struck by the realization that I used to be them. I looked down at my outfit, and I felt suddenly old and geekish. I wanted to scream, "Hey! I was cool like you once! I threw up just five feet from Billy Idol and I slam danced at Max's Kansas City! My life was all black lipstick and backstage passes!"
That afternoon realization so many years ago was just the beginning of the first stage. Along the way there have been events or days in my adult life where I remembered feeling a sensation of the youthful, vital energy from my youth again, minus the pimples.
Seven years ago I was working on my undergraduate degree with a full time job and a three-year old. I would spend my one-weekend-a-month residency completely intellectually stimulated. After a day of having intense discussions about feminism and modern literature, or icons in mythology I would return home on Saturday evening, exhausted, happy, and vital. Though I was very happy to spend time with my son, it would be very difficult to sit there watching Pokémon without spending the entire episode feeling as if I were going to bash my head on the coffee table to drown out the insipid dialog and bad acting. But this challenge of role and identity switching has been an ongoing and alternating theme in my life, exhausted, happy and vital just as if I were twenty again.