From time to time, I am visited by a younger, innocent, more adventurous, and blatantly critical part of myself: my inner adolescent. He’s become a muse for me, a character, and I have become a messenger for him as well. When he thinks about the future, I often tell him, “It’s not going to be as bad as you think.” Luckily, for me, he also shows up to tell me how good life really is now, and how strong and wise I always was, even back then.
Get over it
Take a hike
What I wrote is below.
“Get over it,” my inner adolescent says, putting his feet up on the coffee table and taking a swig from a bottle of Corona. “This place looks fine.”
I’ve spent the last thirty minutes reviewing a handwritten list of what’s left to do, and he’s rolling his eyes now, leafing through the only magazine I have on the coffee table: Consumer Reports Best of 2013.
“What is this boring thing?” he asks, flipping back to the cover. “Don’t you have a Vanity Fair?” The new apartment requires frequent trips to the local hardware store, Ikea, and now, Home Depot. I’m reviewing small kitchen appliances. “You actually read this shit?”
When I look up, he’s staring at me. Unruly chestnut hair that defies feathering; dark brows noticeably thicker than mine are now, and in that too-tight, faded, baby-blue Disney sweatshirt, his eyes are the sky on a clear day.
“Yes,” I tell him. “I’m shopping for a new toaster.”
“Oh, Christ,” he groans. “Is that on your list too?
He’s barefoot. Perfectly smooth feet and shiny toenails. Child’s feet.
“For your information,” I begin, sounding alarmingly like our mother, “being grown up and living on your own requires being frugal sometimes and shopping smart.”
“Oh,” he says, not looking in my eyes. “Sounds like a blast.”
“It’s hard work,” I say. “Self-care is hard work.”
“Jeez,” he says. “I can’t wait to be all grown up then.”
I remember exactly how he feels. That huge expanse of possibility in front of him, all those men he will love and fight with, the ones who will worship him like an idol, or use him like a blow-up doll. The ones who will propose marriage, or won’t return his calls.
“It’s not all bad,” I say, and I realize I actually mean it. “You will be surrounded by words, beautiful words. And good food. And people who love you and make you laugh and tell you wonderful stories.”
“I have that now,” he says as he gets up to toss his bottle in the trash, then remembers to recycle it. “What about sex?”
“Plenty of sex,” I say nonchalantly. “Romance? Not so much.”
“Well, there’s all kinds of romance,” he says, uncharacteristically serious. “Just look around this place,” he says, sweeping his arm over the tiny living room. “It’s filled with people and places you’ve loved: travel, gifts from other countries. Your friends went to foreign countries and brought you back gifts. Isn’t that romantic?”
I’m looking at his straight abdomen. Thin as a reed. No pectoral muscles to speak of. Was I really that skinny?
“But if you don’t ever stop writing that fucking list,” he snatches it from my hands, “you’ll never be here, in this room, right now.” He’s right. I know he’s right. But there’s so much to do. “Dish soap,” he reads, “WD40. Oilcloth. Oilcloth? What the hell is that?”
Before I can tell him, he’s slipping on his tennis shoes and heading toward the door. He drops the list on my desk, face down, then swings the front door wide open. After four days of rain, today is bright and warm.
“I’m going for a walk,” he says. “Remember those? The Michelia trees are opening their sticky white flowers for you, and the jasmine is starting to bloom. It’s your favorite time of year. Remember? Are you coming, or would you rather just sit in this apartment freaking out about what you need to get done?”
I hate that he’s being such a little prick, but I grab my jacket. There’s a coffeehouse down the street I love, and a dog park across the street where I like to sit and watch the pups chase each other around. I’ve been here a few months now, but I haven’t walked with him through the neighborhood yet.