It’s official: I am a real person.
How, you ask? Simple, really: I hung a picture for the first time ever. Like on a wall, with a hammer and a nail.
Maybe that’s not a big deal to you, but it’s something I seriously never thought I would do. Much like planning my dentists’ appointments. Or turning 25.
Grown-up things sneak up on you like that.
One minute you’re eating peanut butter and jelly and jockeying for seat space with the same girls you’ve eaten in the school cafeteria with for years, and you’re all stressing about your hair and your skin and the boys sitting at the table behind you punching each other; the next minute you’re eating peanut butter & jelly and stretching out your legs because you’re sitting by yourself in the work cafeteria, and the boys behind you are men talking in hushed voices (and they’re older than your father).
And you sit alone and wonder—the voice in your head as loud as a companion’s would be—if this is actually how it’s supposed to be, if you’re really supposed to cross your legs at the ankles and concern yourself about things like the delicacy of inter-office politics and makeup that merely keeps up with the Joneses, so to speak, because you finally know that you are pretty enough to get by without it, and does that make you vain or does it make you vapid, and if you’ve really devoted all this mental energy to a conversation that isn’t happening in real time does it even matter at the end of the day because no one is there to judge you. But you judge yourself, anyway, and it’s worse than someone with answers because the questions never end. You want to be the person you thought you’d be now, back when you were awkward and young and dreaming, that girl who was smart and funny and racing the wind for the next adventure. And you look around and think of all you’re still wanting, all the things you planned, and you feel your hopes crowding, galloping against your ribs like horses, and you try to soothe them, to calm them with platitudes like sugar cubes, the sweetness of your small and ordinary victories. Eventually they settle, lower their proud and beautiful faces, nose softly at the fence and one another. They shuffle around the fields of your heart, magnificent and waiting, and you vow that one day you’ll throw the gates open, that you will finally set them free.
And for now?
Well, for now you’ll achieve a variety of firsts. Your first cavity, your first paycheck, your very first quarter-life crisis. You will hang a painting for the first time, and you will come to work with a new sense of self. The cafeteria will be a little bit brighter, the conversation a little more certain.
And that peanut butter and jelly sandwich will be just as delicious as you remember.