Growing Up at 35

My feet had no where else to go. Rain was dripping all around me and the smell of gasoline and industrial fumes made my stomach churn. Despite the fact I’d used this gas station countless times for 30 years, this time the scents had combined to fill me with disgust.

I usually found rain water pleasant, the damp smell of the earth, the delicate water droplets that remained behind, even rain-soaked yards and fields were all refreshing to me. Yet today I did not. 

Maybe it was the effect of one too many duct-taped bumpers. Or it could have been these particular puddles of oil. Certainly the industrial plant nearby wasn’t helping…yet hadn’t that always been there?

Have you ever found a place which held memories and meaning for you suddenly nauseating? 

Thankfully my scarf was already wound around my neck. I dug my nose into it and kept vigilant around the pump. I’d already seen one person asking for money. My car doors were locked and my keys were in hand, thumb on the unlock button. 

As a nine or ten year old I’d happily plunked $2 in pennies and dimes on the counter at the gas station and then raced out to pump gas into the car. Now here I was standing beside my car mentally pushing the pump to fill up my car faster so I could race out of here. 

The thought what I would have done for the care-free days of youth ran through my mind, followed by well, I’d take even the nostalgia of that time here in the present. Yet the nauseating fumes and plethora of torn jeans, bent fenders, and uneven pavement completely stole all of that away.

We sometimes remember times of old as better than they were. Other times we try to force nostalgia into the present but it just doesn’t fit. I’m guilty of this. I may even get lost in my teen or twentysomething years through the dozens of journals I have kept over the years. 

I know reflection on the past holds value but so also does the present. 

The space of the present is its own shape and size. It’s to be enjoyed or repelled in the way we meet it. Like the movie Inside Out, I have finally come to realize that sadness and disgust have their roles too. In fact, growing up is a physical and mental act. 

Today I’m growing up to recognize the value of my sharpened senses right alongside the memories of my care-free childhood. 

Growing up at 35. That’s my morning and my day. How about yours? 

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