Remember how growing up was fun? You graduated to the next class in school, made new friends, lost some, learned new things, got a little more pocket money. Then your body started to change, you thought you liked some boy or girl, you stopped thinking about school as seriously, you got into a lot more trouble than you used to, you were quarreled a little more by your teachers, you got punished, were probably suspended for getting into a fist fight or breaking someone’s tooth in the field or you went home with a nose bleed.
Then you sit a major paper, join high school, start on a low note, brew a few more storm at home and in school and then leave after another major exam. It was a little like primary school, the cycle, but it had a more grown-up ring to it; it was more adventurous, more colorful, more daring. If you were unlucky enough, you actually fought with a teacher or cheated in your final paper, set the school farm on fire, killed and roasted the principal’s chicken.
Then campus. You’re finally free! No more helicopter parents, no more curfew, you likely taste alcohol for the first time, go all the way with some guy or girl you think is hot, you lie about almost everything to anyone over five years your senior, you skip class, you duplicate someone’s test (if you’re stupid enough, you forget that you should write your own name and registration number on YOUR OWN paper). Or you don’t make the grade to get you into campus and you join a college in the city center; you feel bad about not making the cut, about disappointing the parent/guardian, about failing to do what you were sure you’d do when you were just five or eight years old.
Then after the stupid mistakes that often tag along in campus, you graduate. You’re given the power to read. You feel ready to face the world, like a new plane with the wind under his wings and the sun in his face. You send out application after application, maybe you get a call for an interview, you wear out the soles of all your walking shoes on your search. Sometimes you get a phone call. They are asking you to come fill in for someone on maternity leave or to do sales and marketing or a little PR and advertising or reception work. You don’t think about it. “Yes” is your sound answer. Sound because you have been waiting for something, anything, to keep you out of the waiting rooms with your resume in a folder or envelope and your heart just above where your navel sits. Maybe you hate what you do. Maybe the new job grows on you. Maybe you leave and find a better place with more fulfilling work or better pay or both – if things are really working out for you.
You revamp your wardrobe with suits, stiff cotton shirts, black pants and scarves to march the general closet colour scheme. You take weeks to break into a pair of heels, even the wedges are nothing compared to the sneakers you can no longer wear on a weekday – unless you’re walking home or to the town center because you’re saving. Saving for school next year or more clothes and shoes or to help your parents with the bills or to move out.
Then you wake up one morning, at a new place in your life and wonder how you got here. How did you raising your glass at the local joint to ‘jobs that pay the rent’? How did you wind up with the half-dressed man or woman in your bed? Why didn’t things work out with the last person you dated? Why did you fall out with the mother, father, guardian or sibling you feel certain you loved and respected? Why did you leave home and start your own family while you knew that it would be difficult for all the parties involved? Why did you get rid of that pregnancy in college? Why did you keep your pregnancy? Why didn’t you get married? Why didn’t you do that course? Why did you fail your papers again? Why are you here now? What is the meaning of life? What is your purpose in life? Where is God in all this? Who is God? What does the future hold for you? When does it all end? When do you really start living?
Then you turn over and fall asleep, get back to the letter you were typing, plug in your earphones, sit or lie on the couch and stare at the telly for another hour, carry your bags and board the bus. You get back to living and existing.