I have 74 days left of my single independent life. As I recover from my operation and carry out our usual spring cleaning I shall pack away my girlhood with my winter jumpers, to be opened again as memories some time in the future. When I go to bed on the night before the wedding I shall hang up 'girlfriend' in my wardrobe and re-emerge after the honeymoon in an outfit labeled 'wife'.
Same Rachel. Different label. Or will I? With the passing of time and the ticking off important milestones along the way, surely our identity evolves? I am clearly not the same person that I was at 18, a new-born-deer of an adult, with shaky legs, a passion for rock music and a determinism to find myself at university. Or the confident graduate who emerged three years later with a BA, a ticket to a London Law School and who thought getting a job would be as easy as getting into university. Or the slightly more jaded 23 year old who graduated from law school, having gone from comfortably towards the top of her class to the-only-one-who-didn't-get-an-Oxbridge-first.
Our wedding day will be my first milestone, aside from my first period and the day I lost my virginity, that is about me, not my career or education. I can remember the latter well, thankfully, yet barely the former. What I do remember is feeling older, like I had reached a new stage of life. Which, I suppose I had. I don't remember particularly questioning my identity then, like I do now, although I suppose at 13 and 18 life is all about questioning one's identity, so perhaps the thoughts didn't really stand out.
I certainly didn't worry then about life passing me by, that in all the worrying about growing old I wasn't pausing to enjoy the journey itself. Growing old worries me now; not the aging per se (although I am certainly aware that time is not kind, even to skinny minnies like myself) but that I have lived over a quarter of my life. And all I have achieved are academic and career related goals. 2 degrees. Qualified Solicitor. Achievements certainly, but not something I will look back on fondly in the twilight of my life. Or maybe I will. Be glad that I used my freedom from ties and responsibilities to gain a good education. I don't know. That is my confusion.
I am used defining myself but I have never before defined myself as 'wife'. Obviously. But 'wife' is something my mother is. Will I become my Mother? Or will that only happen if we have children ourselves? And Mrs B. is M's mother. And yet, in 74 days, it will also be me. The new generation of Bs. I will have to carve out my own role, my own definition. And so will M. Together.