Sometimes my aching legs would keep me up at night. I’d tiptoe into my parents’ room and wake up my mom and she would say that they were growing pains. My bones were stretching out, inching me by the nanometer towards the countertops, the cupboards, the top shelf of the pantry. One day the step stool was put away and retired into obsolescence. One summer I could wind the grandfather clock without my grandfather lifting me. I could watch PG-13 movies in which sex is merely alluded to by two beautiful people bathed in white light laying motionless on top of one another. I was trusted alone with an apple and paring knife.
All I wanted was to fall asleep but my shins were soaking up all the milk I’d had with dinner and it didn’t matter how much I kicked or stretched or shook them, they were going to propel me towards adolescence as fast as they damn well could.
When I reached teenhood, the growing pains came in the form of crippling angst punctuated by moments of paralyzing humiliation. The trick was to maintain an air of blasé resignation while silently reliving every excruciating vignette from the past five years on a loop in my memory. I learned to feign confidence and in time that feigned confidence became real.
The growing pains of my young adult life are investments. All the stresses I’ve dealt with for the past couple of months – scrimping and saving; paying off debts; moving out; purging myself of most of my things; packing and repacking; saying heart-wrenching goodbyes to my family, my boyfriend, my friends, my dog, my beloved city – it’s emptied a space in me that is waiting to flood with the marrow of the rest of my life.