Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Am I really an adult?

Yesterday summer smacked me in the face. In the morning was the end of school playday, followed by the end of year picnic. The pool opened at one so I took the kids swimming. In the evening we went and watched my middle son, Jason, play baseball. It was at his game, while eating a swirled cup of ice cream that it hit me; summer is really here. Once the kids are in school the calendar year no longer holds sway. The school year is what really defines the seasons for us.

This morning I dropped Lee of for his first day at work. He has had odd jobs around town occasionally, but now that he is fourteen he has entered the temporary work force. I officially have a high schooler now. How odd is that? Some days when I show up at a school board meeting I still feel like a child posing as an adult. Making phone calls really gets to me. I always have to practice. Imagine walking in on me and catching me saying 'hello, I need to make an appointment for tomorrow' while the phone is still laying safely in its cradle. That does remind me of a story a man once told me. He heard the phone ringing so he looked into his fathers room as he walked by. His father was sitting on his bed saying 'hello, hello, hello,' practicing before he answered the phone. The reason that story has stuck in my head for the past ten years is that the father is a successful business man in our community. Does he sometimes feel like an imposter too?

Growing up poor the only time I went into utility offices was with my mother when she was trying to talk them out of disconnecting us. Banks were something very foreign. You didn't need a bank for food stamps, and all cash was spent to quickly to worry about checks. Still to this day going into a utility office or a bank makes me feel weird. So far I have never been able to talk to a loan officer on an even level. As a reasonable person in a small town I know that they are normal people. Living in a small town I talk to these same people in social events with no problem, but walking into a bank lobby makes me feel like a poor little kid with no business in a place like that. When I first started talking about building an unconventional house I was explaining to a friend that I would most likely have to do it without borrowing money because banks don't like to loan money on a project like this. She, who has always put way more faith in me than any sane person should, replied that as articulate as I am and with all the research I had done I could get them to see the benefits of this project. She grew up with a very stable childhood, in a well off farming community, with parents who made a decent amount of money. There was no way I could get her to understand how a person, no matter what their life is like now, cannot shake the divisions they felt in childhood. She would never sit in a bank chair and feel her stomach not up and her tongue tie itself into knots. So I just said 'maybe'.

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