COLUMN: Falling into adulthood

Steve Schirra

A month before my friend Kevin’s father turned 50, his life began to drastically change. He told his family he was going to quit his job as a lab technician and become a fireman. He also was going to buy a motorcycle.

He was having a midlife crisis. To him, this new, exciting job and treacherous mode of transportation were ways for him to reclaim his youth.

I can relate.

I’m turning 20 this week. Though most chuckle when I express my discontent and tell me I have nothing to worry about, the fact remains I will no longer be able to hide behind the guise of teenhood to get me through life. I’ve been having this “pre-midlife crisis” for almost a year now.

This summer when I worked in the retail business, I was stocking school supplies when a mother and daughter approached my aisle.

“Can I get this?” the young girl said, pointing to a geometry kit.

“No,” the mother told her. “That’s for teenagers.”

“I’m kind of like a teenager, but I’m not,” she replied.

I wanted to turn to the little girl and scream, “I know just how you feel!”

I was confused and frustrated at the time, but now my days of balancing on the thin line of adulthood are over, and I’ve fallen flat on my face.

I can already imagine the days following my birthday. I’m laying in my bed, fatigued just from being alive, wearing only my bathrobe. My face will be plagued with crow’s feet and smile lines. Visitors will knock on the door, and my nurse will tell them, “I’m sorry, Steve’s too tired to see visitors today,” or “You can go in and see him for a minute, but he really needs his rest.”

My younger brothers will slowly creep up to my adjustable, orthopedic bed and stare into my glazed-over eyes and look for the smallest hint of recognition. Maybe it’s a good day and I feel well enough to tell a story about the war. Or perhaps it’s a bad day and I look them right in the eyes and mutter, “Promise me you won’t ever live to be this old.”

There will be moments of awkward silence where they look down at their shoes, then they’ll mumble a goodbye and slowly walk backward toward the door.

I’ll grumble at them, telling them I’m taking them out of my will, which I never do because I don’t have the energy to use a pen. Instead I’ll find myself lost in thought as I watch my ceiling-mounted television, flipping between “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” “Wheel of Fortune” and “60 Minutes.”

And I wouldn’t care that I never became a fireman or bought a motorcycle, because I’d be 20 then.

Steve Schirra is a junior English major and the Forum editor for the Daily Kent Stater. Wish him a happy birthday at [email protected].