When I was a kid, I couldn't wait to become a grown-up so that I could do whatever I wanted, when I wanted.
My childhood was burdened with school and homework and household chores--all those things that kids have griped about for many generations. And yet I somehow found time to read comic books and listen to records and play at playing guitar and do fanzines and write letters to friends and produce my own comic books and and assemble model kits and read for hours and rummage through bookstores and rebuild mimeograph machines and build campfires and throw a football with friends under the Marchmont streetlight and ride a home-made skateboard and a bike and walk to stores and walk in the woods to that secret place with the thirty-foot drop-off to the creek below and play putt-putt golf at the little course next to Dairy Queen and climb water towers on Watson Street that we had been told never to climb and talk on the phone so much that my parents finally got me my own phone line so that they could receive calls too...
Now I'm an adult. Tonight, I enjoyed my grown-up freedom by doing the weekly accounting work for my comic shop, preparing employee paychecks, preparing a big reorder, buying a few groceries, backing up some files, and in general wondering where all that freedom went. And every day and every night is similarly regimented.
How did I manage to do so many wonderfully fun things in my childhood while simultaneously feeling so overburdened and oppressed? Now, I'd love to have the same free time that I had back then. Each day, each week, each year seems to pass by a little more quickly than the one before, and I realize that I can't count on getting to all those fun things eventually, like I did when I was a kid.
So I get up a little earlier in order to have some time to read, or I sit down at the computer at midnight to squeeze out some "fun writing," or I read part of a Doc Savage novel on my phone while I'm walking through the neighborhood. And all the while, I realize that there is never any free time--not really. Every minute has six different claims against it, and I have to pick and choose what to do with those minutes. And every now and then, doing absolutely nothing is the best thing you can do with a few of those minutes...
But I'm realizing more and more that the fun things are as vital to me as the duties and responsibilities. So I'm making the time to listen to records and write my own stories and send emails to friends and play with vintage stereo equipment and look at comics and walk alongside the creek and read for the heck of it and talk to friends on the phone and rearrange books and watch TV and build a model kit and take a 2am walk just because I want to.
We never get the lives we thought we wanted. But that's not a bad thing, really. Sometimes we don't know enough to want the lives we eventually end up with. And other times, we're so busy living them that we don't realize that some of the things we wanted are still there, within reach.