Life Comes at You Fast: Growing Up Even When You Don’t Want To

It seems like just yesterday we celebrated my sister Jay’s 15th birthday.  It was a hot weekend in June in 2001. I’m Dominican, so it is no surprise that in our tiny Brooklyn apartment, we had like 50 relatives. Okay I’m lying; it was around 35, I swear. Aunts and uncles, family friends and neighbors were drinking Heinekens and Coronas while the little kids ran around. The little crew we had was all together. The “crew” consisted of Jay, her best friend CJ, Dahiana, my best friend Andy, and me. Maybe in my head we were a crew, and we really weren’t. But most of my childhood consisted of memories always being by these individuals. My memory of this day stops here, but I always remembered thinking that was one of the best days ever. I always look back on this day because it always reminds me of being a child.

 

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Of course, I’m the most dramatic in this picture

Fast forward 15 years, (yes Jay, I just put your age out there) and it seems like an eternity since that day. Technically, I have been over the age of eighteen for five years now. I have been “adulting” for five years now, according to the US government. As mentioned in my previous post, I am convinced my “adulting” is really just me pretending to be an adult. But this summer, my pretend adulting reached another level. My life felt like a YA lit novel, where this was the summer my life would change forever because of a series of events. The events that made me realize I was not the only one growing up…

They say everything happens in threes. So it is no surprise that the summer one of my sisters is going through something life changing, we all are. Although, we all cannot live without each other now, we did not grow up “attached to the hip” by any means. I grew up with a mixture of both love and jealousy for my sisters. My sister Jay was always the badass. Since the age of 0, she wanted to be a police officer. In high school, she joined JROTC, and went on to join the military for 9 years. All my friends had crushes on her. She was annoyingly amazing. She also was my biggest protector. She would beat all the hard parts in my games for me, and would defend me, tooth and nail. Dahiana was everything I wanted to be. Straight A honor student, student athlete, and more. High school was spent being compared to her by teachers and my parents. She was also my biggest pain in the behind, since her attitude and temper was beyond this world. I’m pretty sure I did not help the situation, being annoying as I was. All three of us are super close now, and our lives are so intertwined.

This year the biggest event was Dahiana’s wedding. She got married to the love of her life, Ignacio. Although, they have been together for 7 years and living together for 3 or 4, it still was a big deal. Even though she did not live with us anymore, it hit me with the wedding that we would never live together again! I also realized that she would have another family, her own. I also decided to write a speech for the occasion (one I will post separately,) and every time I tried to write it, I could not! I would spend time just staring at a blank paper, choking up! I ended up writing my speech the morning of. I spent the entire month of June in a weird limbo, trying to accept the fact that my sister was getting married. Not because she would be married to someone, but because the beginning of her marriage symbolized the end. It is hard to put into words what exactly ended, but one thing that felt like ended was “the three of us.” My parents no longer had Jay, Dahiana, and Lisa but they had Jay, Lisa, Dahiana and Ignacio. Her marriage was adding someone else to my family unit of 5, legally.  I’m not sure if I am the only one who thinks of things this dramatically, but her wedding was so much more to me symbolically. In more ways that I can put into words.

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Another game changer happened with Jay. Jay quit her job. Although people quit their jobs all the time, Jay was not one of those people. Jay worked at this company for years. She started at the bottom as a part-time associate and worked her way up to a store manager. She always enjoyed her job, until one day she did not. In Jay fashion, she tried to grin and bear it, and deal with it. However, you can only remain unsatisfied and unhappy for so long. Finally, after being harassed by my parents, Dahiana, her boyfriend, and me, she quit her job! This was huge. Words cannot express how proud I am of her. I always looked up to Jay but I knew she was very stubborn. She rarely took big risk, especially ones like this. But she chose herself this time, and it really opened my eyes to myself. It made me think about the times I was putting other things before myself, and how I shouldn’t. It also signified that a big constant in my life was changing, so of course, more changes were to come.

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Jay cleans up nice sometimes

The final event that truly changed it all, happened with me. I left the house I lived in for the last 13 years, I left my parents, and moved in with my boyfriend, Oscar. All the planning in the world did not prepare for the  roller coaster this was going to be. The moving part in itself was stressful and annoying, but that got done. I wanted to move out of my parents house for the longest time. I absolutely love my parents, they are the best people in my life. However, I’m 23. I wanted to start experiencing my life as an independent adult. I wanted my own place to decorate, to take care of, and build from the ground up. However, I did not anticipate how much I would miss their company. Although we live together, Oscar and I have completely different schedules. We are usually only together when it is already sleeping time, or Thursday nights.  I spend a lot of time alone with Suki. My parents weren’t always awake when I got home late from work, but I knew they were there. It has been hard to adjust to just being by myself. I talk to Suki a lot, though. I do love living on my own and the challenges that come with it. (Hello gas stove, and accidentally forgetting a Banana in a container to the point it rotted and almost killed me.) I also love living with the love of my life, and beginning this new chapter of our relationship. It is just an experience learning to adapt and care for myself fully. Thankfully, I get to experience it with my best friend.

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I kept putting off in my head the fact that I have grown up. So much so, that I also put off the fact my sisters were growing up right with me. I know people grow and change all the time, go through moves without a second thought. However, I am very emotional. I get so caught up in the events sometimes, I forget how I am currently being affected by them. I have to stop and reflect. When I stopped and reflected over the past three months, it amazes me how much I have changed, as well as the lives of my two sisters. Growing up and adulting always scared me, and still does. I still wake up in my apartment thinking, “What the fuck am I doing?” But I take a deep breath, and remember that I  don’t have to have all the answers. I will figure it out as I go, and as long as I have my two sisters, I don’t have to figure it out alone.

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