Voices from the Backseat
Exit Lane to Adulthood
September 18, 2019
So here’s what I’m thinking about these days. Maybe it has something to do with the novel I’m writing. The main character is in high school. As I draw from my own high school experiences, I realize that the last two years of high school, or thereabouts, are part of the continuum of my adulthood.
Let me explain. When I remember my much younger self, it’s almost like I’m remembering a dream. I experienced that life as a version of myself, but not really the same self that I am now. Sometime around junior year, though, things shifted. After that, the events of my life happened to present-day me, just somewhere else along the continuum.
If I think back to the events of those years, starting around 16-ish , they aren’t sort of fuzzy and separated. They aren't like a rapidly vanishing dream lost in the morning. The events of those years aren't amusing stories told by a detached observer. No. With enough effort, I could still go back to Milton High School, and it'd still be me. If you asked me to go back and be second grade me? I couldn't do it without a script. Not even freshman year me. Somewhere between 14 and 16, a seismic shift occurred.
The best metaphor I can come up with is: I exited the roads of childhood and merged into the adult highway. The adult highway hasn't been a straight shot in any way. But it's the been the same "me" road the whole time.
And here’s what’s really creeping me out. My older daughter is rapidly approaching her own adulthood exit ramp. She won’t notice anything at the time. I sure didn't. But very soon, in the next few years, she’ll shift into a version of herself that’ll connect seamlessly with her adult version. And that adult version won’t belong to me in the same way that the childhood version did.
This, more than the first day of high school and first romances and driving, will make me sad. And we won’t even notice it happening until well after she’s merged and joined the rush on the adult lane.