Emerging Adulthood


Old Age Frightens Me

During the last few years of his life, Grandad used to write down the time and events of each day. At 2:15, the mail was delivered, at 5:40, Nina called, at 8:27, Buster needed to be let out, that sort of thing. When we cleaned out his house after the funeral, we found some pieces of paper on which he had written down the time and nothing else.


The Bus Stop

We stand in a haphazard line and look to the west, craning our necks to see every time headlights appear on the horizon and bounce their reflections over and across the corner buildings. A collective sigh escapes when we see that it is not the bus, but rather a young man on a wheezing scooter.

The cold wind blows and we turn our backs to it in choreographed unison. The longing we feel now is primal. We envy the small girl in the backseat of the passing car. She blinks up at us from the darkness of the automobile’s interior and we want to tell her that our momentary yearning is for basic human needs. It is warmth and shelter that we plead for as we peer once more around the bend in the road. Home, home, we silently chant to ourselves, and we return to our messy queue.

No, it is just a van this time. The driver speeds up as he passes in front of us and runs a red light.

Our shoulders slump and with stiff fingers, we pound our complaints into the cold, blue glow of our mobile-phone screens.


Going Out for the Evening

The purple flowers from our neighbor’s tree were filled with rainwater and fell like so many water balloons from their branches onto the sidewalk. I made my way down the pavement. My ankles felt light in the new-season air after having been covered up all winter with heavy black boots. My thoughts elsewhere, I stepped upon those forgotten wet blooms and almost instantly slid and jerked in every direction, my muscles tense in preparation for a fall. My heart ricocheted off of every corner of my chest cavity. I slipped, as though the earth’s crust was jelly and God was jiggling it back and forth.


It Worries Me

Every time I use my parents’ bathroom, I reach to the left for a light switch, but it has always been located on the right.

I pull out my bus pass instead of my house keys when I arrive at my own front door.

I referred to my lover as “Brad” at lunch, and it is the name of my despised uncle.


The Path

I set my alarm for earlier than usual. I wanted to rise and go for a morning jog in the park. I dressed in semi-darkness, stepping over books and notebooks, pens and teacups, remnants of last night’s work. The still-rising sun slowly seeped in through my dirty windows and spread gray-blue light throughout my studio. I pulled on the clothing I had set aside the night before: a combination of tight, black, rubbery materials and soft, colorful textiles. The muscles around my eyes still ached for want of sleep.

The street between my home and the park consisted of four car lanes, two narrow sidewalks, plus a wide bicycle lane and footpath down the center. Every paved element seemed tree-lined, every smoke-gray surface served as a background to bright green leaves. On a windy day, all of this greenery made it so that cars were not being driven but rather paraded down the avenue under a canopy of botanical confetti.

I shut the front door behind me, squeezed through two closely parked automobiles and made my way to the path.

The bike lane was already quite congested with people dressed for work in their somber blacks and grays. I joined the mass and began the long walk to the park. I walked towards the rising sun, my steps following the rhythmic beat of the crowd’s pedaling. The man next to me panted heavily and advanced slowly on his bicycle. Beads of sweat dripped down his face, staining his white shirt collar, even though it was cold enough to see his breath.

Some commuters had children riding with them, children who were either pedaling frantically on their own bikes next to their parent, or strapped into a chair fastened above the adult’s back wheel. The latter bounced along in silence with a look of serene, sleepy observance on their chubby, unlined faces.

A woman was walking her dog a few yards ahead of me. I’m not well versed in dog breeds but I do know a dachshund when I see one. Judging from its size and color, the dog wouldn’t be making this walk for many more years, although its gait demonstrated nothing more than perfect health. Its mistress tried to walk at the same brisk pace but seemed tired and overburdened by the leash, a paper coffee cup, and a straw bag filled with newspapers, fresh bread and various documents. The dog ignored its owner and moved forward with purpose, cheerfully galloping. Its bark was nothing more than a soft, breathy rasp, yet it was made with vigor and conviction.

The wind blew and the sound of rustling leaves was deafening. We were walking (or riding) into the wind now, slowly, laboriously, our shoulders tense, our heads bowed, our bodies bent forward. The dog shook electrically.

I looked up through the silver-lined foliage at a nineteenth-century apartment building on the corner. An old man was leaning out his window, five stories up, and was opening rusted shutters. His hands trembled throughout this ceremonious act and he winced at what little sunlight there was. His translucent hair and white nightgown were ruffled by another gust of wind and he retreated back into the darkness of his apartment, pulling the windows shut as he disappeared.

I began to feel the cold and knew it was time to start running. I zigzagged through the cyclists and pedestrians, provoking many loud sighs and huffs, accusatory looks, and curt excuses. I jogged in place while waiting for cars to pass. A traffic light turned red and I crossed the street into the park to begin my run.


The Joke Was Not Funny

I was speeding, yes. A police car appeared behind me, its sirens wailing and lights blazing. Kurt turned to me and said, “I’ve got two ounces on me, baby, and it ain’t legal in this state.”


Walking Towards the Train Station with My Professor

“Holding our own head up is one of the first things we learn. And yet, take a seat on the 5:01 train, a Wednesday night in November, the windows fogged up from all those warm, over-worked bodies… That universal knowledge, that common ability, seems to be the first thing to go.”


A Monday-evening Fight

His hands on his hips, he looked down and nodded.

“I know, I know. When work gets like this, it doesn’t matter if you slept ten hours the night before…”

“I never sleep ten hours!” Her tears had not subsided.

“Forget it…”