I was five when I first felt it, the wanting to arrive.
The summer sun, still high in the sky at my bedtime hour, shone through the window of my bedroom turned prison. The sounds of the lawnmower buzzed faintly through the open glass, as did the voices and laughter of the neighborhood children. I wasn’t old enough, they said, and that was why I couldn’t stay up with the other kids, riding bikes and playing tag. When I was eight, then I would be old enough. When I was eight, my walls would fall down and I would be free to indulge in red-light, green light until dusk finally closed its tired eyes. When I was eight, I would arrive.
Only eight didn’t bring the same passion for red-light, greenlight that five once had. No, eight found me wanting pierced ears. My friends, with their pearls and studs, were my envy and shame as I stocked up on stick-ons. Ten, my parents said. At ten, I could pierce my ears and become every bit the fashion goddesses that were my friends. Ten, ten would be my arrival.
Ten found me waiting for middle school, middle school desperately longing for high. I wanted to skip my freshman year of college, to emerge as a sophomore, confident and without any of the awkwardness. When I was dating, I couldn’t wait to be engaged, engaged and counting down the days to my wedding. That, I told myself, that was when I would arrive.
It’s just that, married and twenty-three, arrival has changed its face, and is still eluding me.
I’ve told myself now that I’ll arrive when I get that contract with a big enough name, when I can stop scrounging for work and can pick and choose my projects. When I can stop submitting articles aimlessly and start getting asked for them. When I have enough time to sit down and write the book that won’t sit still in my head. When I can stay outside late with pierced ears and be married and proud of my career.
And oh, how much I miss.
Frustration rains so heavy when I’m waiting to arrive at the fantasy real time won’t permit. When a pile of wet laundry is waiting to be hung out but there are deadlines to make, when empty boxes are strewn around the living room and it’s kind of urgent that I fill them because we’re moving out of state next week, when something must be done about Andrew’s week-old and half-eaten birthday cake, when our suitcases sit in a heap because Andrew and I have been on the road almost every weekend since we’ve been married, when pierced ears and fake pearls don’t hold a candle to the Nordstrom drop earrings I just found on the internet.
When our house is clean, when we’re making millions, when the towels learn to hang themselves; that’s when we’ll arrive.
But, then, perhaps we won’t.
I’m sure that, should I ever arrive, there will be a new envy. There will be a new destination, a new desire, a new standard to deprive me of my current joy. And that rising sun’s not stopping on account of my arrival. So I am putting my foot down, pulling out the stops and feelings of inferiority and announcing to these boxes that, today, I have arrived.
I have arrived at a house full of wedding presents from incredibly generous people, and as I pack each item, I give thanks for knowing them. I have arrived hands, dirty from the work of digging and building a career from the ground up. I have arrived at mementos from around the country in the form of dirty clothes, a testament to a husband with a spirit free and adventurous enough to rival the birds. And I’ve arrived at a big old guilt free slab of cake and ice-cream in the middle of the day.
It’s good to have goals, but better to have joy. Tomorrow, and any goal’s fulfillment, is no guarantee. So, darling, lift your glass and raise a toast, because joy for the having is waiting.
We are living, and we have arrived.