It was coming up on Christmas. I was in my first year at college and I needed to do some Christmas shopping.
I drove myself to the Whittwood Mall in Whittier, California. I figured they had enough different kinds of stores that I could find everything on my list. In the middle of all the shopping, I took myself out for lunch at the Jolly Roger.
I sat at the counter with all the other people eating by themselves. Many of them were employees, at the various businesses in the mall, taking their lunch breaks.
I felt very adult. It was the first time I ever had that feeling. There I was with all these other people, making their way on their own, taking care of themselves, getting things done.
Some time before I went on that shopping trip, I had splurged on a pair of shoes I had wanted for months. They were platform shoes with a chunky heel. The vamp was a woven white leather. The toe was closed but the heel was open. The heels were wrapped in cork. I loved those shoes.
But the thing about them was that you couldn’t walk fast in them. Your foot would come right out if you did. So you had to walk like an adult. No rushing about like a child. You had to walk with a stately purpose. And with poise. More than anything else, those shoes made me feel like a grown-up. Like a woman.
I’m nearly 70 years old now. But I can still remember how I felt on that day. I can still feel it in my body. In my heart.
There are days, more than I care to admit, that I feel like I am pretending to be an adult. I can feed myself and do the laundry. I can cook and clean. I can take care of my husband and our dog and cat. But sometimes it doesn’t seem real. Not nearly as real as it felt on that day so many years ago.
This is what I remember. I remember all the time between then and now. And it tells me that I am an adult and that I shouldn’t doubt. But I do.
Still, I’m doing okay, so I guess I will just be happy with that.