STAUNTON, Va.—My seven-year-old self would be so disappointed in me. It’s June in Virginia and I’m sitting by the pool at this Howard Johnson’s with a large chunk of my extended family. Somehow, I am not playing with my cousins in the pool, but instead engaging in meaningful adult conversation with my meaningful adult relatives. In my defense, my cousins—all much younger than I am—are playing a game that involves hitting each other repeatedly with wet towels. It looks painful. But the fact remains, I’m having grownup conversations and enjoying them and I would not rather be swimming. I don’t go in the pool once over the entire weekend. This is probably the first step in a slippery slope of adulthood that ends with me using the word “newfangled,” and not in an ironic way.
My various relatives are clumped around tables, deep in conversation, but every so often there’s an invisible adult signal and they turn around, move a little closer to someone, and join new clumps. I am not quite an adult—I can tell by how the conversation often focuses on me, the way adults talk to children: Am I liking college, am I really on the Quidditch team, do we have brooms, do they really fly, what is the point of Quidditch if the brooms don’t fly? But I’m interested in their lives as well—over the years when I wasn’t looking (maybe I was in the pool?), they turned into pretty cool people. I never wanted to grow up into one of them, but now it doesn’t seem so bad.
This is how adulthood sneaks up on you. It starts with a Christmas when you get a few useful presents and are incredibly excited about them (“YES! A cutting board and some command hooks. How did you know?”). And then a forgotten pool. Before you know it you’re regularly choosing comfortable shoes over cute ones, complaining about chronic health problems, and avoiding doing stuff instead of wanting to fill every day with new and exciting adventures. You learn that a lot of times even the doctor doesn’t know what’s wrong with you, and that your relevant grownups and authority figures are oftentimes making it up as they go along.
I know I’m one of the least qualified people to talk about adulthood. I have accepted none of the actual responsibilities that go along with it—I do get bank statements every month, but I use them unopened as bookmarks. I eat my ramen straight out of the package because I can’t be bothered to pour boiling water on top of it. But it’s kind of freeing to admit I don’t have my life together. I have the rest of my life to be on top of everything, although I think that’s a myth. And in the meantime, I can talk to my older, wiser relatives.
Savannah I. Whaley '18, a Crimson multimedia editor, lives in Mather House.
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