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I wonder, sometimes.

I am standing on the edge of a cliff face. A breeze whips past me as I stare out into the darkness. It's a familiar sight, comforting. The river bends below me. It stretches out, away from me at both ends. The arch of the bridge traverses the river, silhouetted by the house lights and golf course below us. So far away from us. The highway reaches out before us, straight into the hills and disappears on the horizon. It is silent. There are no cars. No planes. No animals. It is just us standing on top of the cliff. As it should be. It's late. A late weeknight. Just a normal Tuesday night to the world. I step away from the edge.

In 5 minutes, I will be 22 years old.

It's a turning point in my life. A fixed checkpoint. I'm only 21 years old, I'm not an actual adult yet. Maybe legally. But I'm still a child. I'm immature, I laugh at fart jokes. I laugh at everything. Why would I take anything seriously? 21 years old and we still have no responsibilities. We can buy alcohol. It's okay to drink until you black out, you're only 21. Nobody expects you to actually do anything. It's a magic age. But at the end of that period, it stops. You cease to be a kid. 22 is the end of the road.

You're unambiguously an adult.

And it's frustrating. I've come a long way since 16. I've come a long way since 18. Hell, I've come a long way since 21. But I don't feel like I've come far enough. I've made so many mistakes. I've wasted so many opportunities. Made friends, lost friends. Had new experiences, forgotten old ones. I feel like I've been coasting. That I'm planning on coasting for longer. I have no idea where to go from here because I have no idea if I am currently where I ought to be.

I'm studying something I find personally unsatisfying. I'm doing research in fields that I'm not especially invested in. I write comics for a newspaper that nobody reads. I'm just frustrated that after 22 years I haven't done anything worthwhile with my life. There's nothing to leave behind. The only thing I've really done that matters is meet people, and people tend to forget these things. I haven't done anything to make the world a better place and it upsets me. We are such brief creatures. I don't even want an exciting life--I just want to know that what I'm doing matters.

In 1 minute, I will be 22 years old.

I am speaking. Rather, words are falling from my mouth as the clock ticks down. The task was to recount my entire life, but I am distracted. Easily. Often. The song plays in the background and they are watching me. I stare into the darkness and hope they can't tell I'm avoiding their gaze. Though I'd like to look down at the Earth from above. My friends. My closest friends, old and new, with me on top of this cliff. I would miss all the places and people I love. I am explaining how the only things that really matter in our lives are the friendships we make. Family is a lifelong obligation, but friendship is a conscious effort. Suddenly, I'm not so worried about getting older. So although I may go, I'll be coming home soon. In 10 seconds, I will be 22 years old. We raise our bottles up, ready to toast. In this moment, everything is brilliant. 'Cause I don't want to live on the Moon.


I am 22 years old. This is the best birthday I've ever had.

Comments

Cyber said…
Woah, hey, I'm 22, and finding this post was a surprise because I really relate to everything you wrote about. Not that I write a comic for a newspaper, but pretty much everything else, it's great knowing there are other people out there who have the same outlook on life. Thanks for posting!
Gabe said…
Hey, thanks for commenting! It's a relief to know I'm not alone in feeling...restless!

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