When it finally gets cold enough to use the heat for the first time in a long time, I fire it up to take the chill out of the living room early in the morning. Even though the central heat I have now that I control from my phone with my Nest thermostat is a huge upgrade from the old radiator heater I had in my single-lady-life West Hollywood junior one-bedroom treehouse, it smells the same when it kicks on. The moment I get a whiff of that first wave of heat, I’m transported back. 

I can hear the clanking of that radiator as it chugged on, always making me wonder if it was going to blow up before my eyes. It warmed that small, cozy space well back then, and it made me feel comfort, at home, adult. I lived in that little place I called the treehouse for six years. It was where I experienced true independence, where I made my “real, adult decisions,” where I felt alive and excited and hopeful and sad and lonely and lost and found. My address had a 3/4 in it. It was 842 3/4. Like it existed on some magical plane. A tree grew through the big balcony, creating shade over the entire tiny second floor junior apartment, making it feel like I was up in the tree, fluttering around my turquoise colored kitchen and trying to shove more clothes than was possible into my tiny closet space. Don’t get me wrong, it was affordable (an absolute steal by today’s standards!), so nothing was updated and the landlord was nowhere to be found. It backed up to an alley where people would scream and trucks would roar by my window. I loved living there.

I know I look back with rose colored glasses on this time. I know I probably lump together entire years and don’t remember it accurately. I know I was anxious and scared about a lot of things. But I also know I felt real moments and times of freedom. I felt possibility. I felt hope. I felt like I could figure it out and the next great thing was just around the corner. I analyzed with my friends, plotting our next moves and finding so much comfort and laughter in each other. This big, mysterious future was ahead of us. I was free. 

I know often I hated this freedom. I was never the easy going, carefree single person I dreamed of being (and saw on tv). I didn’t like the unknown, I liked stability and aimed to find it, I yearned for family and home life and a lot of the time, a garbage disposal. 

But now, as I smell that heat smell and I can hear the radiator click on in my mind, it brings tears to my eyes. Tears of longing, of a life that’s gone, of sadness, of confusion. Where did that young woman go? Is the mystery of what my life will be already solved? That maiden isn’t here, the one bouncing around jobs, going to happy hours and dates and talking to friends on the phone for hours. But it’s not even about those things. I could go to a happy hour now too. It’s that single focus on self, that feeling of young hope.

I love my life now. I live in a sweet house with my wonderful husband (who I met while living in the treehouse!) and son and dog. We have nice neighbors and endless green spaces for our son to explore and play. It’s that white picket fence kinda town in the suburbs I get to share with my family – with my extended family close by as well. 

This is the season I’m in now. It’s not my turn to be the 25 year-old maiden bouncing around West Hollywood. It’s my turn to create roots and traditions, to bond deeper with my family and find our rhythm, to raise our son to be a kind, self-aware, grounded human, make friends, and to enjoy it. And I do – so so much. I honor the woman I was and how she got me here and all she was trying to learn and grasp. I grasp a lot more of it now – in a less sparkly “I’ve got the answers” way – and am learning to embody the Mother – steady, grounded, supportive, with a capacity for the wide range of human experience that comes with raising a family. 

And I’ll keep the dance parties going because those just belong in all stages and eras of life. 

Written February 2021

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