I have always been a list maker. I make lists of books to read and books I have read. I make lists of recipes to try. I make Christmas card lists and shopping lists and fantasy vacation lists and lists of things to write about. But, I never feel like I make any progress. I make a list of ten things to do and finish five. I make a list of great ideas for stories or poems, but never come back to them. And then, I have a great reason to beat myself up about never accomplishing what I set out to do.
If you asked me, in my heart of hearts, for my defining characteristic, I would always reply lazy. I could always do more. I could write more. I could help more. I could call my mother more (oh, the guilt). I could get myself organized and sit down once a week to write dozens of blog posts and tweets in advance so that during the week I can focus on my paying job where I could do more. And then when that miracle happens, I could spend hours each night cleaning my house until it sparkles and is always ready for company. Then I’d cook meals for the week and freeze them so I could serve vegetables and photo ready food every night. I’d lay out my clothes for the week and my outfits would match and never be wrinkled. I’d always have greeting cards and wrapped gifts for every occasion neatly stacked where I could find them. My spare bedroom would not contain multiple bins of papers marked “to be sorted”.
This is how all of you live, right?
Because when I get down to it, my secret fear is that everyone else has the secrets to adult living all locked up. They are perpetually together and caught up on their lists and don’t have anything they’ve let linger for months (years?) waiting to be completed. And that makes me wonder, even now that I’m past thirty, whether I will ever be an adult, the way the adults seemed to be when I was a kid.
So, I try to imagine myself from a child’s perspective. Height-wise, at 5’0″, I’m not passing for grown-up. My work and weekend clothes aren’t kid’s clothes, but the Converse sneakers that go with both might confuse a kid. I live alone- pretty impressive. I can stay out as late as I want and watch as much TV as I want (though I don’t have many channels). There is no food that resembles real food in my fridge now (at which point the imaginary child asks if my mom forgot to buy me some snacks). My clothes are in piles on the couch, in the spare bedroom, and near the hamper (mom is going to be so mad).
I’m not quite there. And maybe I never will be. Are you?