Birthday Crayons

drawing I'm older today.

I remember the year I turned four. I woke up early and climbed out of my bed and toddled to my desk (yes, even then I had a desk and yes, even then I used it religiously) and pulled out a fresh sheet of paper and a crayon and took a deep breath and waited for a piece of knowledge--something I'd been missing--to come to me.

I put the crayon on the paper and I drew, and as I drew I realized that something was still missing, and so I toddled off to my parents bedroom and said, "I'm four. Shouldn't I be able to draw a heart now?"

So they explained, as best they could, that knowledge is acquired; we do not wake up each year on our birthdays with our heads suddenly full of new things. The learning process is continuous, and age, funnily enough, has absolutely nothing to do with it. (Last night I met a man who had just turned forty-three; but in the last decade I've been a hundred, and I've been sixteen, he said.)

Over the next few days I practiced my hearts until I could form a passably symmetrical one in an instant; so in a way, turning four was the catalyst, only not in the way that I'd thought. And now, here we are again, in February, and I'm reminded of crayons and childhood by the book my parents send me. They say I'm Harold, drawing my own path with my own purple crayon, and I think they're probably right, and I think I probably have been ever since I drew my first faulty heart on my fourth birthday, or even since before then. Since forever.

And it's good to remember this because this morning, I woke up, and the Man brought me a mimosa, and as I sat there sipping it, preparing to struggle against the wind on my way to work, I caught myself thinking: do I know how to be an adult now? Hoping that the morning would magically imbue me with a belated understanding of adulthood (I think I've hoped this every year since I turned 18).

And of course, it didn't, it can't, I will never wake up and know how to be an adult, not today, not next year, not when I'm 43 or 100. So I guess I'll just pick up my crayon and keep drawing.