Saturday, January 20, 2007

On Growing Up

The other day, an idea came upon me. Without going into too much detail, it involved a week-long backpacking trip with my father. I was pretty excited about this: Backpacking! Father! Week! So it goes.

I proposed my idea to my father, and, to my surprise, he did not immediately respond by leaping to his feet and dancing about the room, twirling a pseudo-feminine pushbroom that he carries upon his person at all times for this specific purpose around in his arms in lieu of an actual partner, as per his usual rejoinder.

"Next time," he likes to say to the broom, once his euphoria has diminished somewhat, "I'll let you lead." Never a dull moment in my house.

Instead, he sat me down and explained to me why one cannot, in his line of work, just pack up and head out into the wilds for a week. There are certain obligations that one must attend to, he explained. Thursdays are particularly difficult.

My first reaction was one of disappointment, not just at the failure of my plan, but in my father. "Golly gee willikers," I thought to myself, "my pop sure is a square. I'm not gonna be anything like that when I grow up! I'm gonna buy a bitchin' BMX bike, and ride it in the dirt all day, and be totally rad." Unrealistic, I know, but isn't it the place of youth to desperately cling to foolish dreams before they are mercilessly dumped into the gaping abyss of adulthood?

Therein lies the nature of my revelation. During the conversation, it came up that my father has five weeks of vacation time per year. Sounds like plenty, when it's all bunched up together like that, and indeed, it's more than twice the national average. And yet, five weeks means one day out of twelve for the year. Furthermore, he knows where every day of it is going, and has known since last October. October. I don't even know what I'm doing next Monday, and my father has planned out his whole life a year in advance.

This is what it means to be an adult. You've got your whole life planned years in advance. Life goes on, one day after another, until someday, you wake up and find yourself dead.

I was hoping this would become more profound than simply comparing the freedom of youth with the restrictions of venerability, but if this story has any moral, it is that adulthood continually develops new ways to terrify me.

P. S. Velociraptors conspicuously absent from this post. I don't see why you continue to believe me.


take me out into the black



Blogger olddockeller said...

It is a sad thing. But fear not- not all adults are as locked in to a life schedule as is your father. It happens gradually, insidiously. It need not happen to you in quite the same way.

One does, on the other hand, one does have to pay the rent.

And when he finishes grantwriting, your father may reconsider.

8:23 AM  

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