The Truth (500Words, Week 2, Day 2, 12/26/17)
“It’s not easy, you know? This whole adult thing. I mean, I totally wanted to get here. I remember being a kid and wishing for it every chance I got. Like, if I blew on a dandelion or caught the clock at a good time. I didn’t waste my birthday wishes on it – those were reserved for things that I thought were more likely to happen before the next time I got to make a birthday wish. Because priorities. I didn’t realize what I was wishing for – how much work was involved.
I was ready to work work, like at a job – that’s not what I mean. I mean all the other crap that you have do when you’re a for-real adult. If I could just go to work and come home and bask in my adult-ness? Ha! That would be awesome. Yeah, except that’s totally not how it goes. At least, that’s not how it goes for me so far, and I’ve been an adult for, like, five years and it’s not getting any easier.
You get it, right? You understand? I mean, you have to do the other stuff, too, I imagine. You have to have all the stupid conversations and do all the stupid stuff that I do, right?”
I looked at her, completely bewildered. Having a twenty-two year old spout off about how “hard” it was to be “an adult” was a special kind of hell. I was trapped in some sort of caricature of life and I wanted nothing more than to find a way out of the conversation and out of the room. Safety was close – there were peers in the other room. All I had to do was find the right thing to say that seemed like I got it and like she was right in her feelings of overwhelm at all the trials faced by “adults” like us. That was all I had to do.
“Bethany, I hope you find your way to accepting the responsibilities and privileges that come with adulthood and that you find them soon. You, right now, are living something of a charmed life with the roof over your head paid for by others, and the luxury to go to work at a job that “fills you up” creatively. That you have found a way to make these gifts into a burden is impressive to be sure. It does not make me want to explore ideas with you further. Feel free to reach out again once you’ve actually grown up.”
It felt so good coming out of my mouth, and nothing I’d said was untrue. It did, I understood, signal the end of my invitation to this gathering. I turned on my heel and walked away from the gaped-mouthed Bethany and took myself into the next room to break up the fun the others were having. The large chorus of laughter that greeted me gave me a twinge of regret. Just a twinge.
“Colin”, I said as I touched his shoulder, “I think it’s best for us to take our leave. Now.” The slight emphasis I gave the last word was all the hit Colin needed. He graciously extricated himself from the revelry and went off to gather our coats. I could feel the Bethany-timer ticking as I said our goodbyes to everyone. If the storm came after we’d left, Bethany could have the stage and make whatever pronouncements she wanted. If we were still there, well, I didn’t want to see her embarrassed.
Colin and I rendezvoused at the door and slipped out before Bethany had collected herself enough to emerge from the kitchen. I shrugged into the coat he held for me as we waited for the elevator. He was familiar enough with the routine to hold his tongue until we hit the fresh air of the street and had made it past the pleasantries with the doorman. He looped his arm around mine before asking, “Ok, Lover. What did she do that made you take her down a peg or four?”
I stared directly ahead and answered, “the truth. Nothing more.”
* All 500Words are fiction. Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *