“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” Virginia Woolf
I posted, what I thought was, a pretty laughable photo on Instagram, on Monday. It was a black and white photo of a body-building, bearded, black model lying in bed with his dog. My friend Tonnisha and I have a slight obsession with this Instagram-famous man, and find ourselves placing heart-eyes under his photos on the weekly. So when #ManCrushMonday rolled along, I thought it would be an honest, sad, but comical commentary on my current single status. Here’s the photo:
So when my fifteen-year-old cousin, Morgan, shot me a text and asked me who “my new guy” was, I chuckled. Did we really think Kelsea could bag that kind of dude? I sent her a bunch of lolz and laughing-to-tears-emojis. She got the hint but told me she honestly thought I was dating this guy. We joked some more about it and I told her how much I missed her and that we should get Starbucks sometime soon.
She immediately agreed and rattled off her schedule so we could plan a time. I instantly started to put the puzzle together…
I don’t see my extended family all too often—mostly on holidays. And my little cousins, like Morgan, who I taught how to crawl and watched grow up more quickly than I could handle, are all following me on Instagram and Facebook, these days. They’re high schoolers, now, (EGAD!) and I realized, I’m that woman, now.
Did you ever play “House” when you were younger? I played it every day at recess in 2nd grade. I remember it vividly. I told all of my friends that my fake name was “Nikki” (because how stupid of a name is Kelsea, amiright?) and I was 19 years old and I drove a Jeep and I had a boyfriend. One of my friends would agree to be the “Mom,” one of my friends would agree to don a deep voice and be “the Dad,” and if there was anyone else hanging out with us—I’d have a little sister. I’d prance around the playground, fake-driving my Jeep, fake-flipping my hair, and fake-making-out-with-my-boyfriend, even fake-smoking-cigarettes. And all I could think about the whole time was how badly I wanted to grow up. How much I wanted to be “Nikki.” How desperately I wanted to be someone’s older sister; someone’s girlfriend. How fabulous and glamorous being grown was going to be.
So, back to last night.
My Starbucks date with Morgan had turned into a full-on Cuzzo-Date with her, my 15-year-old-cousin Karlie (who my brother and I taught how to crawl, as well) and her little sister, Odessa, who I believe is 13. We are all walking about Easton, stopping into stores and randomly touching garments on racks. I casually mention that I need to find a crop-top for my friend Brittnee’s upcoming birthday party. This sends the girls into a rampage. They disperse and promise to find me the perfect thing. Suddenly, I’m in the fitting room and crop tops are being thrown at me. Each of the girls are saying things like, “Omgsh, Kels, this would be SO perfect on you!” and “This totally fits your style!” I model each of them for them and they tell me how great they all look, even though I disagree. I quickly get bored with crop-top-searching, as this gathering was never supposed to be about me, anyway. I suggest we go grab some Starbucks and another rampage ensues.
Karlie and Odessa begin on a rant about how they’ve never been to Starbucks before, and Morgan suggests they try the same drink I introduced to her a few months ago. It’s not long before we’re in Barnes and Noble, overwhelming the lone barista with confused and scattered orders. Everyone is sipping everyone’s drinks and I keep hearing, “take a picture of me with my drink!”
I gather the troops back to my car. We’re on the freeway, and I’ve yelled at a driver for not using a blinker which has sent the car into an uproar of laughter. I’m driving with one hand and sipping my Chai Latte when I look in my rear-view mirror. My cousins in the backseat are whispering, but looking directly at me. They catch my glance and tell me how good of a singer I am. I thank them and they tell me that they’ve all been devising a plan to get me a record deal. Now I’m the one in an uproar of laughter. But that’s when the epiphany hits.
I can finally see myself through the eyes of my cousins and I realize that I’ve become “Nikki.” That they are all longing to live the independent life I live. They’re all anxiously awaiting to have the driver’s license that’s sitting in my purse somewhere, and drive the car that I can’t seem to keep clean. I suddenly see how glamorous of an example I am portraying to them right now and it makes me shutter. I find myself reminiscing to being their age and remembering how terribly insecure I was. I start to wonder if they’re feeling the same way, and if how I’m carrying myself is making it better or worse.
My mind wanders back to the catalyst for this cousin-date in the first place: that photo I put on Instagram. I start to wonder what kind of thoughts that post put into their heads, and what kind of emotions ALL of my posts put into their heads. My heart is swarming with love and compassion for each of them and I want to pull over the car and hug them all. I am reminded that my example, my life, my actions should all be one large embrace to them. I make a silent vow to spend more time with each of them. I make a silent vow to remember that they are watching.
I’m about to say something very wrong, but very honest. I know I should be living a life worthy of the name of Christ—but that sometimes isn’t enough to motivate me. I often fall back on the knowledge that I AM a failure, I was born into sin, and that God is expecting me to fuck up. But somehow, knowing that my little cousins are becoming women, themselves, makes me want to adjust my posture, and raise my chin, and be a better Kelsea. Knowing that they are looking and watching and (dare I say) admiring—is enough to shiver my timbers. I want to be someone they’re proud of. I want to be worthy of those adoring eyes.
There’s a line from one of my favorite songs (it’s super cliché, so don’t hate) “Stop This Train” by John Mayer. So scared of getting older, I’m only good at being young. It could not describe me more perfectly, these days. I’m terrified of the days ahead because they are nothing like I had imagined them when I was in second grade. Nothing. They are nothing like I had imagined them a year ago. But that’s the beauty of life, right?
My favorite thing about soccer, (especially the English Premier League. Come On You Gunners!) is how unpredictable it is. Upsets are almost commonplace. You could watch a game for 90 minutes and see zero goals—or you could watch a match for the first 10 minutes and there be five goals. You absolutely never know what type of match you’ll enconuter, but you know that no matter what the outcome, it will still be the beautiful game.
Such is life, right?