As I looked in on my sleeping child this morning, I thought about what a dreadful hangover she was going to have when she finally woke up. Rachel turned 21 yesterday and while I was meditating last night, she was out with her friends in a Georgetown bar tossing down a lot of alcohol. I’m sure this will not be her first or her last hangover, but I’m also sure that it will be memorable. Why are rites of passage often so painful?
Rachel’s becoming an adult gave me reason to think back over her 21 years and recall significant events:
– My husband David catching her as she entered the world.
– Ballet class when she was 3. She was much more interested in the candy they sold than in learning to dance.
– Constantly sketching from the time she could pick up a pencil. Her first animals were quite authentic.
– Sitting down at the piano at 4 and just playing songs by ear.
– Learning to dive at age 5.
– Trying out for a gymnastics class at 6. After she did 10 pullups on the bar, the coach commented, “She’s as strong as a little bull.”
– Being Ariel in The Little Mermaid, which she and her friends acted out at her birthday party.
– Upon losing her first tooth, she wrote a letter to the Tooth Fairy: “Plases leve the toth but give the cash.” Spelling was never Rachel's forte.
– Sleepover horse camp – Rimrock – at age 8. She sent us a letter written early on which we received just before camp was over: “As soon as you get this letter, come get me!”
– Lots of swimming. She was good at all strokes, so IM was perhaps her best event. She was not impassioned by swimming. It just happened to be what we did because her brother Daniel was such a good swimmer.
– Winning an art contest at age 10 with pastels of Shabbat Candle Lighting and Chassidic Men Dancing.
– Until she was 11, she played baseball on co-ed teams. She could really slug the ball. At 11, she moved to softball. She could still really slug the ball. She liked playing first base and occasionally pitching. Her ballplaying career eventually came to an end when she got hit by a ball and became scared to bat!
– After the banishment of the dogs from Hell, Rachel had a series of pets: a hamster, a rat, a gerbil, a guinea pig. One day she announced that the guinea pig was no longer moving after she had kept it under her covers. It was still warm, but very dead.
– She lobbied long and hard for a big dog after all the rodents. She and I picked Dylan, the wonder dog, out of the litter of 9 labrador retrievers. He was the one quietly chewing on the plastic lamb chop in the corner.
– At 11 she took up ballet again and quickly advanced to be on pointe. She was a natural.
- She was always intrigued with origami. The complicated folding instructions always made sense to her and she could whip up an origami crane in just a few minutes.
– She was sick as a dog for her Bat Mitzvah. She still got up there, fever and all, and chanted the Torah and Haftarah.
– Rachel always played tennis, just like she always swam. She made the varsity tennis team as a freshman in high school, playing #2 singles as a senior. She never lost her cool, accepting victory or defeat equally well.
– At 16 Rachel swore off all fat and most food and became a walking skeleton. Anorexia – the plague of overachievers in a society that prizes skinny girls. After finally coming out of denial, she worked to put back on some weight, still looking more like a model than a 16-year-old healthy girl.
– Her senior year, she did a series of 12 oils with her pointe shoes as the subject for her AP Art portfolio. She sold one and three hang in our living room, where Rachel’s art decorates all the walls.
– When she got ready to look for colleges, instead of going on the trip with parents, she and her friend Crissy (now once again Sudie, her given Iranian name) went by train to Boston and New York City and checked out schools by themselves. She liked the first school she visited, applied early decision, and was admitted to Tufts.
– Deciding what to study was a dilemma for Rachel. She loves art, but also loves money. So she decided to pursue a major in bio-psychology. At this point, she is not sure where this is going, but it will get her a degree.
– Her junior year first semester in Australia. We got a call in the middle of the night one night: “I’m so excited. I just jumped out of a plane at 15,000 feet 6 times!” We were glad she called after this happened.
– Rachel has had only a few serious boyfriends: Thomas, the golfer, in high school; Eric, the somewhat spoiled local doctor’s son who was terribly concerned about his appearance; and Mike, the cross-country runner at Tufts who is also a writer. Although Mike has been dubbed “dickhead” for the moment, there is still hope.
– Because she likes money, Rachel has always been industrious and has had a variety of jobs. She was a highly-sought-after babysitter in her early teens. She worked at Hank Harris’ tennis camp for several summers. She worked (and currently works) at Faccia Luna as a hostess. She worked at Brother Jimmy’s in Cambridge, Mass, as a waitress. She worked at Brown ‘n Brew coffee shop on the Tufts Campus. She recently worked at Abercrombie for all of 3 weeks; I think this job convinced her that she does not want a career in retail sales.
Although her future is still uncertain, what is certain is that Rachel is an independent survivor. She always figures out how to get things done and how not to offend anyone in doing so. She has a wonderful life ahead of her. 21 is just the beginning!