Mail in a Pile on the Counter

Time is bizarre. 

It’s something we can spend and save, make and waste, choose and lose. We can have too much, but mostly have too little. Time can fly, and time can also crawl. It moves systematically forward but never backward, and it never, ever stops.  

The concept of time makes my brain hurt sometimes. How can an hour seem to sluggishly drag by, while the last 28 years whirled by me, knocked me over, yanked me onward in its wake? It is stumbling to consider time lost and wasted is something we can never get back. And in those quiet, most precious moments that snuggle beside our hearts and leave a lingering imprint, we want so badly for time to stop. We long for it to halt in its tracks, pump the brakes, freeze around us in those minutes we wish to last forever.  

But it won’t.

Time will always continue on, and it will shove you along with it, because it never leaves anything behind. 

As children, time is something that just can’t seem to run fast enough. We can’t wait to grow up. We can’t wait for that vacation next month. We can’t wait for dinner. We. Can’t. Wait. Then suddenly we stop running and wish we could back up. We want to turn around, go back, do it all over, take it slower. But we can’t. Time’s magnetic field keeps pulling us onward. 

As an adult, I never have enough time. 24 hours is not sufficient. I cannot work full-time, cook, clean, work out, home improve, walk the dog, grocery shop, get gas, water my plants, weed, mow, catch up on Stranger Things, call my mother, see my friends, scroll Facebook, make all those Pinterest projects, fold laundry, practice piano, write my novel, and get at least 7 hours of sleep in 24 hours! IT’S NOT POSSIBLE. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that adulting means making time. Adults learn to prioritize and learn to function with little sleep and learn how to balance all the little things in life that pile up (like that massive pile of mail on my counter that I have no intention of going through any time soon). We have to make time and prioritize. We have to. Because time stops for no one. Prioritizing, like adulting in general, takes practice. Sometimes we’ll let things slip. Like the mail. Or the weeds. Sometimes even friends. 

It seems more difficult to maintain friendships now, especially when we have different priorities, incomes, lifestyles, careers, schedules, and locations. It used to be so effortless. Texting and Facebooking daily came so naturally and we had all the time in the world to meet up for spur-of-the-moment Hobby Lobby extravaganzas. Now, suddenly, my evenings are packed with the above list while I dump extra energy into a new job and I save whatever I have left for the struggle to launch a writing career. We’ve all got lists like this. We all have our shit and sometimes it’s not fun. But it’s part of adulting and we make it work. 

Watching those around me grow and blossom into adults over time (even if they feel like they’re faking it sometimes) has been fascinating. I’m an observer. That is, I watch people. While the greatest obstacle for me is to put in a syllable in casual conversation, watching it all happen comes naturally. I watch the way their lips move as they talk, or the habitual gestures they use as they tell a story. The way they smile can be worth more than the words they utter. Perhaps most interesting of all is the speaker’s eyes. It’s the level of intensity swirling within them that really tells the story. An observer soaks in every word and detail, storing it away. I don’t only learn about the speaker; I learn about the entire human race. 

I’ve watched many different people from different backgrounds and with different aspirations develop into adults and become parents. In fact, my husband and I are one of the only couples within my friend group without children. I think there’s an irony here, because everyone always thought I’d be first. I’ve always wanted a whole pack of babies, my own baseball team to fill the rooms of this house. As I observe everyone around me, I think maybe I should be feeling like I’m running out of time, like there’s this biological clock slowly ticking away as the world continues to spin. 

But I don’t. 

For the first time in my adult life, I feel like I have all the time in the world. Or, maybe I feel like I simply don’t have the time to take that leap yet. I have time, I don’t have time, who knows? Like I said, the concept of time makes my brain hurt. 

Adulting doesn’t mean becoming a parent. I will, one day, when I can figure out how to adjust all those priorities and fit my large to-do list into 24 hours. But in the meantime, I will fluidly move with time, spin with the earth, observe the beautiful transitions around me, and leave the mail in a pile on the counter.


Preschool Style

The concept of friendship is almost bizarre if you really think about it. What’s the moment your relationship with another human being suddenly moves beyond an acquaintance or coworker or stranger and into this friendship zone that comes along with a certain understanding of each other?

What drop of rain overflows the bucket?

As a child, forming friendships is effortless.

“Do you want to play with us at lunch?” The third-grade strawberry blonde called Rachel walked up to me. She had bangs, and her hair was straight around her shoulders. She wore a pink zip jacket with purple legging pants and nearly white tennis shoes that lit up as she waddled. She smiled, a front tooth missing.

“Okay,” I said quietly, shuffling my feet and brushing my tangled hair behind one of my ears.

“Nikki and I are going to play animals. We are shivering in the cold by the tree, waiting for someone to come rescue us.”

“Okay,” I said again. “Can I be a kitty?” Which is funny, because as an adult I am certainly not a cat person. Something living in my house that poops in a box and hops on my counter? No thanks.

“Nikki is the kitty,” Rachel said matter-of-factly. “I’m a puppy. Maybe you can be the bunny?”

I didn’t argue; I was just happy to be included. I twitched my nose like a bunny and stuck my teeth out in front of my lower lip. “Bunny,” I repeated.

“Great!” she exclaimed. “We will meet you by the tree after lunch time!”

Animal games at recess turned into lunchtime conversations, and lunchtime conversations soon gave way to Barbie games on our bedroom floors. Barbie games morphed to soccer games, and phone calls turned into Instant Message conversations on AOL. (If you’re under twenty, you haven’t the slightest idea what I’m talking about.)  Through these transitions, Rachel became my best friend. I met Rachel in the year 2000.  We’ve been best friends for nineteen years. And for fourteen of those years and counting, 300 miles sat between us.

We must be doing something right, here.

Somehow, we’ve gone from shivering animals to women with careers and houses and husbands.


I want to talk about love for a moment. Because the concept of love and understanding it is #adulting. I don’t want to talk about the romantic love you think you feel at 16, or you know you feel at 30. Not a sexual love or feeling of lust. Right now, I’m talking about feeling love for another person, regardless of sex or age. Much like the love you feel for your sister or your father. But this person isn’t blood.

I’m talking about looking at someone and feeling like your world is so different with them in it.  It’s the difference between “I love you” and “I’m in love with you”.

Someone once asked me if I loved my best friend, if I loved Rachel. I wasn’t sure how to respond. They then prompted me, “if she died, would you cry?”

“Well, yes,” I agreed.
“Then you love her.”
Fair enough. But I cried when a friend’s mother passed on. Does that mean I loved my friend’s mother? Or did I cry out of remorse for my friend? I cried when I learned of Alan Rickman’s death. Does that mean I loved him? (Well. I did. But I didn’t know him. Just his characters. And that intoxicating way of speech.)

This “love” word gets tossed around a lot. We say it to our friends and coworkers like it’s just another word. I do think it is overused, but I also think it’s not just meant for the romantic feelings you feel for someone.

I love my husband. I love my sister and my parents and my grandparents and my aunts and uncles and cousins. I also love Rachel.

I was in 9th grade when I realized that. I was moving away from the small town of Columbia Station in Ohio and heading all the way to Rockford, Michigan with my family. Looking back, this truly was the best move for my family, and everything worked out well. But when you’re in the middle of your freshman year of high school and you’re facing goodbye with your best friend since the third grade, there is no stopping the hot tears rolling down your cheeks.

I said goodbye to a lot of people that night, but I only cried when it came to Rachel.

I didn’t even cry saying goodbye to my boyfriend (who later turned out to be super-hero gay, so it’s all good.)

Despite the miles, we remained close. My connection with her was elastic enough to stretch 300 miles, and I am eternally grateful for that morning she asked a lonely third grader to play.

Why isn’t making friends that easy as an adult? Why can’t I sit beside you on our lunch break and claim you as mine? If I did that, you’d probably look at me funny and take your lunch elsewhere. But you should be so lucky for me to claim you. I’m a ride-or-die kind of friend. You need a shoulder to cry on? You got it. Need some comic relief? I’m your girl. Need a body buried? I own 7 acres.

The fact is, we don’t talk to one another like we used to. Perhaps children hold this elusive innocence and an uncomplicated understanding of the world. This innocence leads them to asking the new girl to play animals by the tree, and it changes her life forever.

Adults don’t do that, but maybe we should.

Let’s kick it preschool style.