"...because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody,
you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."
- When Harry Met Sally
I'm in my forties, but I've spent much of my day engrossed by a young adult novel. This is not as silly as you might think.
Reading about young people dealing with young people's problems is strangely invigorating. I remember exactly how I felt when I was a teenager, a college student, and a twenty-something. The emotions are years past their expiration date but still visceral. I related to the characters because I know what it's like to think what they think and feel what they feel.
That's what sucked me in, but I'm left thinking about something else now that I've finished the book. I'm grateful that I'm done with those stages of life. I'm happy where I am.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell may not technically qualify as a YA novel, but Rowell has written some excellent YA novels and this book has a similar vibe. The characters in this one all are in their late twenties and dealing with transition issues like careers, marriage, and babies. If you've been there, you'll feel like she must have been inside your head during those tumultuous years because she gets the characters' thoughts, emotions, and dialogue so spot-on.
In Attachments, you get to know two female friends solely through their deeply personal intra-office email correspondence. Beth desperately hopes her long-term live-in boyfriend will propose, and Jennifer is trying to decide whether she's ready for parenthood. One wants to move on to the next step in her grown-up life, while the other isn't sure she's ready for her next step.
I remember it all too well and don't miss it a bit. My coming-of-age milestones are in my past. Life will still present difficult decisions and transitions, but I've checked off the family-building action items of my twenties and thirties. Decisions have been made.
In my late twenties, I too was living with my long-term boyfriend and wondering when he was going to propose. It was nine and a half years from our first date to our wedding date, and I was ready to start the next phase of our life before he was. He also lagged behind my self-determined babymaking schedule. We had the baby, and my plans failed to coincide with his schedule for baby number two. We had our number two and have no more schedules to match. Our family is complete.
I no longer live in limbo waiting for someone else to get on board with decisions that affect my identity. I have become a wife and a mother. Anything else I choose to become after this is pretty much in my court. It's liberating.
While it didn't compare to the angst of the teenage years, my late twenties and early thirties were largely spent waiting for the rest of my life to begin. Living that life is so much better.