It started with a good pair of working shoes. I just couldn't keep wearing my hiking boots to an office job. I tried buying cheapie nice-looking shoes, but I'd wear through them in a month or two. So I actually had to fork over the money for a good pair of Doc Martens. (I still have my hiking boots, but now their relegated to neighborhood walks and working in the garden.) I was 25.
Then it was my wedding ring. I've never worn rings or jewelery - I'm a little paranoid about metal dangley things attached to my limbs. It took three rings to find one that fit well (not loose enough that it flies off my finger in cold weather, not tight enough that I can't easily get it off to fiddle with or dry underneath). It took three years before wearing it was comfortable. Even now, sometimes.... It also took some getting used to - people seeing something significant about me by what I wear. They could see something in my shoes before, sure, but this is more specific. I was 28.
Yesterday, I was given a nice, big, adultish wristwatch. It is nice enough that I have to wear it, and big enough that it isn't just a watch - it says something about me. (I had a small, sturdy watch during Peace Corps, but the battery died within a month of my return to the States, and I never got it replaced.) This watch is one more nail in the coffin of my youth - it is one more signal that I am an adult. I am 32.
It is awkward and gangly - I'd say it is too big for my wrist (as a preemptory excuse for taking it off), but honestly my forearms look adult to me now, and the watch looks appropriate. I wear it on the same hand as my wedding ring, and the two silver objects compliment each other - at once more disturbing and oddly (inevitably?) right.
Gone are the days of my daily flannel attire, dirty shoes and watchless wrists. I have responsibilities now (and so my rebellions are that much more profound, and that much more subtle). I am (at 32) feeling like I am an adult.
Perhaps it is less my watch and more my good job, successful marriage, and double-mortgage. Maybe I'm just being struck by another little outward sign that I'm no longer my sixteen-year-old self - for better and for worse. Still, it's a lot to reconcile.
I wonder how long I could have gone without buying a watch of my own. I wonder if Christie's aunt (who gave us each watches) has any clue of the existential quandry her generosity has put me in. I wonder how long I'll wear this watch, after all. And I wonder how silly I sound working myself up over the most natural and inevitable thing in the world.