2009: Maturity (And Other Things I Thought Were Total Bullshit)
by Jake Kilroy
In 2009, I matured. Finally.
Well, more importantly, I think I made the final personal development into adulthood. Obviously, I will continue to evolve, as to most things, if not all things (I don’t know, as I did piss-poor in both high school and college science courses – quantum physics can go fuck itself). What I mean is that I believe that 2009, at least in my book (there’s no book – it’s just a literary device), will be remembered as the year that I officially…grew up.
It sounds so awful to say/write or hear/read. Or it did, once. But not anymore. I’m still getting used to it. Admitting you’re an adult is like buying a killer new pair of jeans. They fit, but it’s a little snug and constricting at first, but you can already tell that they look good and, when they’re finally broken in, it’s going to feel really good too. You know, life is a lot like blue jeans when you think about it.
So, at some point, I think I became more mature, though I have some serious difficulty placing when. That’s probably not all that weird, I suppose. I don’t recall most exact moments of sophisticated development. Did the Pokemons ever remember their first power-up? Is that analogy dated? Do I care? Am I asking too many questions?
Of course I’m asking too many questions. It’s all part of maturity. That’s why you wonder everything as a kid, doubt everything as a teenager and second-guess everything as an adult.
It’s all science or something.
Anyway, I don’t remember the fierce moments of change in me in the winding course of my life. I don’t remember the first time I noticed a girl and felt butterflies tickling the walls of my dinky, little torso. I don’t remember the first time I had $100 or $1,000 in my bank account (or ever getting one in the first place). I don’t even remember when I got hair in places that were not the top of my head.
Maybe I remember variations of those moments though. I remember my first kiss (fifth grade), I remember the first time I saved my money ($30 roller blades) and I remember masturbating for the first time on the bathroom floor and thinking that I was surely going to become a sex addict by high school.
At least I can ballpark the season or stretch of months that I came out the other side of tunnel vision as someone more mature. I spent the summer up in Seattle and I noticed how patient, reasonable and understanding I was by autumn. These simple yet profound traits were, and still are, well-disguised in me, I suppose. They’re hidden somewhere behind a mouth that explodes with swear words like fireworks, a brain that is constantly devising scheme ploys and revenge plots and a heart that is always yearning, though it would be careless to admit it outright.
Imagine three young, healthy swimmers taking a nap on an island with one large weeping willow tree. The leafy swaying of the tree’s branches, sweeping the water like brooms, never letting any passing car or boat know that there are three sleepers beyond the veil of green tickling blue.
This, I suppose, is maturity. And I’ve experienced it in so many oddball variations. In elementary school, I thought maturity was listening to adults. In junior high, I thought maturity was being away from adults. In high school, I thought maturity was questioning adults. In college, I thought maturity was being an adult. Now, as an adult, I realize that maturity is just calming the fuck down and enjoying your life.
In the beginning of the year, I was living in a party house with three other man-childs in their early twenties. Somehow, I believe this stunted my growth and development as a person, as it gave me a glimpse, or chance even, to perpetually try out an indefinite livelihood of being 19. When I was 19, I went to parties nearly every weekend and ate out throughout the week. This, if I remember correctly, which I probably don’t, was the first year I had the chance to do that. I lived at home still, but a sudden relief had surged in my decision-making process when I realized that I was no longer in high school and was able to really just fuck up everything in pretty cool way. But I always wondered what it would’ve been like to be that liquored-up-biting-wit-mouthing-off-arrogant-dietery-hopeless-self-indulgent-careless young bastard if I had my own place. So, when I finally moved out in the beginning of 2007, I succumbed to that insufferable disease known as immaturity. And I was plagued with it until May of 2009.
Even though I had a big-boy job of sorts, working at a national business magazine, I was late to work, I ate fast food nearly every day (sometimes twice) and I drank on like a stupid fish (not like those smart fish that understand moderation, who swim and don’t drown). There were always parties, and if it wasn’t parties, it was kick-backs or sit-arounds or hang-outs or I don’t know…this is all sounding really dated, even by the new millennium standards of man-childish practice.
This year, I was laid off in March and we moved out of the house in May, and I was struck with a severe curiosity that I never before had the chance to entertain. I had a fuck-ton of severance money, a fuck-ton of free time and a fuck-ton of swear words that were ready to dazzle their way between laughter and loitering.
So, naturally, I fled to Seattle.
I had a friend moving up there and I thought, “Well, I’m not doing anything.” So I moved up with him for the summer. I won’t get into the politics of summer. However, I will say that it was the best summer I’ve had since I was 15 and the best summer since taking on legitimate responsibility and control of my life. Every day, I was writing, swimming or exploring. There was always adventure. I had nowhere to be, except exactly where I wanted and I had never had that. There was always school, work and social requirements. I have always been too busy for my own good. But, in Seattle, I couldn’t be busy.
Instead of attending birthday or going-away parties, I was sitting by the window of our Seattle apartment and writing fiction on my new laptop, listening to the sporadic passing car in the night. Instead of sitting in a bleak office, I was jumping off of docks during the day. Everything had been replaced. I still went to parties, but they were with new friends. I still ate out, but at new cafes and restaurants. And, somehow, among all of this change, I found maturity.
I no longer ate at fast food chains, but ate at healthier restaurants or the grocery store. I stopped eating candy for the most part (which was like a preacher giving up his Bible – the larger picture is still there, but the main fix is not – I also stopped caring if analogies made sense). I wrote more (which I would put off), I showered regularly (which I also put off) and I stopped collecting grudges like decorated war medals (which I sincerely put on).
The list was much longer, but the point is that by the time the leaves were changing, I had already changed (poetry!) and returned to California a suspiciously patient, reasonable and understanding individual. I was quieter and more mature. I was no longer anxious, senseless and ruthlessly argumentative.
It’s not like Seattle has mystical healing powers. I had just never lived in any other city than Orange, California, before I ventured up to the Northwest. And, when I removed myself from practically everything I knew, the loud, brash and reckless one-man parade I was became much more of a well-planned, polite and socially engaging dinner party.
Even the notion of removing yourself to change sounds like a cliché.
The thing is that I never thought I had to run away to “find myself” or anything else that sounds so very awfully and terribly teenage-martyr-like. No, it was more like, “Oh man, once I finally moved out of a party house and had time to actually think, maturity just kind-of-sort-of happened. Whoa. Gnar.” That’s about it: I just calmed the fuck down and really started enjoying my life. Yep. No clichés. Well, actually, there are a lot of clichés dancing their way through this essay, but I figure clichés come with change and are delivered into existence because there has to be truth to them somewhere, whether they readily show it or not.
Fuck, that makes me a cliché, doesn’t it?
Wait, ending this essay like that is a cliché, isn’t it?
Well, fine. Whatever. I bet us mature adults love clichés. They’re/we're probably the ones who made them clichés. And, really, what’s the problem with something happening time and time again? Isn’t that all clichés are? Aren’t they just soft-spoken off-hand remarks that are passed around like joints? Don’t we all just go through the same bullshit anyway? Who cares if we have a few sayings that jump from one person to another, like a kid goes rock to rock to make it across a river? Do you care? Do I care? Am I asking a lot of questions again?
Jake Kilroy is a writer and something else in Orange, CA. He leaves town more often than anyone I've ever met. He also keeps and maintains a blog of his own, read it ya dunces! The Cobblestone Address.
If you're a twitterer, so is he. Follow him @fakebookcovers.