The first time I felt like a grown up is a complicated story.
My parents died when I was in elementary school. My older brother raised me.
Because my parents were dead, I didn't ask about them for fear of upsetting my brother. (That was in my head. In his, he didn't talk about them because he took my silence on them as my attempt to move on.)
I thought I had to be mature and face facts. Clearly, my mother and father weren't coming back. Except for my brother, I was all alone in the world and felt that way.
In my junior year (high school) the tightly wound package began to unravel a bit.
Senior year, my brother was dating a woman (my age) and planning to move to Europe as soon as college started up for me that fall. These are details we hadn't discussed but I heard of from his friends.
Not having any of it discussed with me pissed me off, as you can probably imagine.
The angrier I got, the more I needed someone to blame. The perfect fall girl was the woman my age that my brother was dating. Like me, she was a high school senior. I had no idea whether she was planning to go to Switzerland with him or what. But from my point of view, she had all the information and held all the power.
In the brief moments I was around, I was visibly -- but silently -- resentful towards her.
Then my brother invited her for a sit-down dinner at our place. Which really ticked me off. We -- he and I -- didn't do sit down dinners. We might eat at the bar on bar stools but most of the time were were eating in the living room with either the stereo or the TV on. We did not 'sit down.' Now here we were. On top of that, his girlfriend shows up with groceries and the plan to cook.
At some point during the evening, my silent simmer spilled over into a vicious and nasty verbal attack of the woman, her cooking, her relationship with my brother and everything else.
My brother was appalled.
To my surprise, the woman stopped him from yelling at me. She said we needed to talk (him and I) and stressed that she wasn't bothered by anything that had been said, that she knew nothing to do with her and that she hoped we could some day be friends "but right now the two of you need to talk."
We did too. Did need to talk.
It was very scary, though I hadn't verbalized it or seriously thought about it, both of my parents dead, my brother about to go overseas, completing high school and facing college, it was all too much.
We talked and worked out our issues (he had a few as well). It was a very mature and growing night. Facing that I wasn't a child and had to address my issues was a very big thing and huge turn around for me.
If you didn't know already, I did become friends with my brother's then-girlfriend. That woman was C.I.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):