26 days into the new year, and I finally snatch a moment to sit and write.
It’s a significant year for me, this – I’m turning 21. 21! What does it mean to be 21 anyway?
Leaving the sanctuary of teenagerdom at last, entering the Early Twenties. Twenties, not twenty; saying hello to that ‘y’-suffix for the first time last year, and as it passes, readying myself to greet it every decade now. 20 was that sort of awkward transition year where you got to choose how young or old you’d like to be – where crying “I was just a teenager a few months ago anyway” as plans fell apart around you, was as legitimate as staring down the injustices of youth boldly declaring “I’ll be 21 in a few months – just you wait!”.
At 21, you get no such luxury. You’re a member of the Twenties now, and no one’s going to let you forget that. I just wonder when you’re supposed to start to feel like a proper Grown-Up. As humans, we enjoy the longest period of childhood, growth and protection before ‘maturity’. It’s evolutionarily unique and it’s supposed to make us extra prepared for when we have to fend for ourselves at last. But this long childhood does have the effect of blurring the line between reliance and independence – some people grow up at 18, others at 25, (and some, not at all?).
So when does the mantle of youth slip off? When does adulthood come to rest – with grand finality and solemn ceremony – on your bare shoulders, shoulders which have been preparing for this moment for years and years? Does it happen imperceptibly, with each seam of old fabric unravelling, knitting itself into the new one till one day, you realise that a familiar but different cloak wraps around you? Or does it happen one fateful day, one destined moment, blinding you like lightning and when your eyes clear there it is, there it is. your first pay cheque, you clutching at it with sweaty palms; a silver ring, you nodding with a lump in your throat; keys to a house worth half your life and then some; your very own tiny human being…
outside, the sun slips below the horizon, dusk in the library spurring a great push – that second-last paragraph, that final equation, the last-ditch attempt at a half-decent, one-and-a-half-page summary of my life so someone in the world will adopt the adult me. till then, i float untethered, neither here nor there, humming a tune, hugging my cloak.
i think i should write more this year.