I never ever thought I’d grow up, until I actually did. I was not prepared. There is something that we capture as children and young adults that we can never regain as we get older in life. I lived in the moment each and every day and in return, my life moved at the welcomed pace of a snail. The years between sixteen and eighteen felt like an entire decade. I could not wait to grow older. I was misinformed.
I learned how to roll a rubber bowling ball, use wood glue, water color, and combine numbers with letters. However, I wasn’t prepared for death, child support, divorce, taxes, layoffs, mortgages, budgeting, or pre-treating my laundry. It’s debatable whether this is something I should have learned at home, or it’s just a part of the growth itself. I understand that I was in the minority when I graduated from High School and even more so now. College has become a must and if you don’t attend, join the military, or work for your parents; you’re about to get a serious dose of Life 101.
I closed my locker for the last time and before I knew it, I woke up in Ft. Fucking Knox. It felt as though Mr. Otis pulled the car over and dropped me off in the middle of the Mojave. I never worried about tomorrows until then and if I didn’t start, I’d be writing in a blog at Panera after eight hours of making t-shirts; in a 108 degree building. As Mr. Otis pulled away, he ran his fingers through his thick bushy beard as he threw my painting out the window and screamed “best of luck“. He had that look in his eye as if he’s seen this before and my odds were not entirely in my favor. I was in the middle of nowhere with no direction in sight. I’d know how to survive on leaf collections and floor hockey but If I can’t financially figure out how to support myself and find shelter, I’d have to hitchhike through life.
I took a test in middle school to determine my career path. I answered every question with great detail and honesty. I bubbled every circle perfectly with a brand new #2 pencil. I could barely wait for the results in order to research my future occupation. After a few days, it was determined that I would pursue Underwater Cave Spelunking. I can’t swim. We had “Career Opportunities” in High School that I believe was mandatory. I remember writing a paper about wanting to become a bee keeper and playing around with Monopoly money. I’m fairly sure that if I had taken this class seriously, I’d still be left with the questions I have to this day. Filling out applications for a half hour and writing resumes did not inform me of the man, and how he was going to stick it to me because I wasn’t prepared enough to have multiple options in my life.
Every time I ran “2 laps”, I ran 2 laps. Every time I run now, I think about not having money, my garage door not working, making my girlfriend happy, lost loved ones, and waking up at 4:30 am for work. Including sleep, I spend fourteen to fifteen hours a day in a trance; most of it at work. I can’t imagine a life where Monday feels like Friday at 5pm. I know it’s possible. I mean, I picture Perez Hilton on a giant king sized bed with over sized pink pillows made of Indonesian duck feathers, eating Fig Newtons and blogging about the Tom Cruise divorce; in a perfect 72.5 degree bedroom on an F’n Monday. Not exactly something I dream of doing, but I’m sure he’s more than content. I bet he was never introduced to Mr. Otis’ and his musty Ford Taurus.
Kids are growing up much faster now than I did. Technology stabbed everything I loved as a child in the back and closed a majority of the windows to our youth. It didn’t make our lives easier, it made them more complicated. Passing notes, letters in the mail, Scrabble (the actual board game), and reading a Playboy in a friend’s garage. Gone. I’m just as guilty as the next when it comes to being roped into the world we live in. For the most part, we have to evolve with the times or we will be left behind; whether we like it or not. When I was a kid, we rode our bikes to Highland Appliance Center to play Nintendo. Soon after, kids rode bikes while playing Nintendo, and now (if not soon) kids will be projected into the Nintendo riding a bike from their couch within their basement. Technology, McDonalds, and Mr. Pibb are making us fat and lazy. I vividly remember playing kickball outside for hours as a child. I would and have shit my pants instead of missing my turn to kick. I waddled to second, had my shadow replace me and go behind second base (that was a tree) and discard of my Knight Rider underwear. We ate unwashed grapes off of vines at halftime. Hopped fences, ding dong ditched, and ran home to the sound of a ringing bell; not a cell phone. We stole wood at construction sites and built empires with a few nails and a can of spray paint and at night, used that can to kick in a game we grew to cherish. This is what I can’t get back.
I have a memory that I will hold onto until the day I pass away. We grew up playing football in my friends front yard and one day, they planted a very small pine tree on our ten yard line. (How dare they). Thankfully, it was small enough to not interfere with any down and outs. I asked, (like it was yesterday); “Where are we going to play football when this pine tree grows”? My friend and his brother both looked at me and said, “We won’t be playing here or living here when that tree grows that big”. I acted as though I was joking when I asked that, but inside I was destroyed. It felt like the first time a girl told me we’d be better of as friends. I suppose right then and there, life allowed me to grow up. Our experiences, mostly hardships allow us to live and learn. Regardless, I’m a strong believer in a helping hand. Guidance from our elders and being able to lose the “I found out the hard way” mentality.
I hope some day we can have a life class in our school systems. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t; but if we can roll a rubber ball at some pins while wearing jock straps, we can certainly learn about alimony payments. We can provide our children a path full of opportunities, instead of a desert and a painting that takes fifteen years to sturdy my steps upon a path I may have just discovered. Now, life is going by too quickly and although I currently have no desire to defecate in my pants, I can’t slow it down and I know it. To underestimate your youth and decisions you make prior to becoming an adult can be critical. Find your path and live your dreams. Help another and help yourself. I was told something that sticks with me. Why do you put on your oxygen mask first before your child? You can’t help another if you can’t help yourself first. Be passionate about life and what it offers. Embrace all your trials and tribulations and live every Monday as if it were a Friday.