I turn 20 today, and I’m not entirely sure how to feel. 20 doesn’t come with all the perks that 18 or 21 have. Nothing’s changed all that much from last year. I don’t have any new rights or privileges afforded to me. I still can’t drink (in America), and I’m still not old enough to rent a car (for some reason). But its the symbolism of turning 20 that is so important. It’s important because my childhood is now undoubtably behind me.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little bummed. Looking back, I think I had a pretty great childhood. I had a family that loved me, a group of friends that can never be beat, and all the power rangers and legos a kid could ask for (except for the Death Star). It’s hard to look back on those days and not yearn for the endless weekends and summers with nothing to do but have fun, when no one expected anything of you, and you never had to tie your own shoes. Which is weird because as a kid I used to look up at the adults around me and to be like them, an adult with freedom, but now that I am one (debatably) I can’t help but look down at my younger self and wish I had never grown old.
And yet being an adult is awesome. I can do what I want, I can go where I want, I can buy what I want. But as I’ve grown older what I’ve gained in freedom, I’ve lost to responsibility. You can’t just watch Spongebob and eat Reese’s Pieces all day and never clean up after yourself, because that’s how you get ants. I have to do things, I have to do work, I have to get a job, and suddenly all those day I used to waste away with my legos, or playing Xbox become a thing of the past. All those experiences just fade into memory.
When your a kid it feels like there’ll always be another time, there’ll always be more. We’ll get together next weekend and watch weird anime’s together again, I’ll ride my bike through the woods some more tomorrow, I’ll go swim in the lake and eat a maple cremee and make a fire in the backyard, and not have to worry about homework, or exams, or getting a job, or paying my rent. If I miss something today, there’ll always be something else tomorrow. But I don’t know if there will be a next time anymore. Everyone is moving apart, in some cases literally. The old neighborhood is a fractured husk of its former self, the streets are empty, the basketball hoops removed, and nothing but a scratch on a tree to show that we were there.
In all honesty I think that’s what scares me most, that I’ll never see my friends again. Well, I mean surely I’ll see most of them again. I’ll go home for christmas and we’ll get together and have a few laughs, and we’ll probably get together again the christmas after that, but for how much longer? When everyone’s moved away, and busy with life and work, what then? When will we meet next? When will the next time be that we’re all in the same place and we get to blabber on about panda porn, and how Saving Private Ryan should have won best picture?
I don’t know, and that’s the problem. I’m at the point in my life where childhood ends and adulthood begins, and that is terrifying. At yet, at the same time, it’s exhilarating. There’s a world of opportunity in front of me. I can do anything I want. I’m already well on my way to living out my dreams of becoming an intergalactic space captain. While there are many things I probably won’t ever experience again, there are a million other things to come. Because lets be honest, I’m still young, my life is only just getting started. Nostalgia is great, but eventually it comes time to let old things be and look forward to new things to come. And frankly, I kind of like not knowing what’s next, makes you feel like anything can happen.
And while I don’t know the next time I’ll see my childhood friends, I do know this, we’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.
Sorry that got a little heavy there, we’ll get back to the lighter stuff next time. Thanks to everyone for their kindness and well-wishes, it really truly means a lot, and all that attention is really satisfying.