January 7, 2004

adolescence malevolence

Hoodoo Lodge - December 31, 2003

It is a common misconception that people only go through adolescence once, and those that never manage to grow out of it end up listening to emo and moping about and playing in tattoo bands and piercing their unmentionables and using a combination of mint dental floss and safety pins to sew patches to their jackets for the rest of their lives.

You remember your adolescence. You remember wearing Nine Inch Nails shirts and steel-toed boots, and asking for pewter skeletons for Christmas. You remember buying gargoyles at the Renaissance Festival and leaving them under the name "Vladimir" to be picked up before sunset. You grew your hair out long and rebellious, and a year later cut it short and rebellious. You bounced around from clique to clique, bought a North Face jacket and Lowe Alpine backpack to fit in with the preps, printed your own GWAR shirts to fit in with the punks, built computers to fit in with the uber-geeks, read The Onion to fit in with the trenchcoats, and listened to jazz to fit in with the band nerds. Your life was one big clumsy awkward party, where everyone was invited and no one came.

And before long it was all over, and you and your parents sighed a chorus of relief that you would never need to go through that again. But you were mistaken, in that your adolescence didn’t really end so much as it went into hibernation. It sat dormant, waiting for another stage of extreme awkwardness before it could resurface.

It is often assumed that this is whence from a fellow’s mid-life crisis stems. In his fifties a man is supposed to look back on his life, realize that he has not been living the life of his dreams and fall forth into a self-destructive reconciliation to recapture that fantasy. The ideal product would be a synthesis of childhood dreams with modern reality, but such grace does not always result.

But nay, adolescence will crack a dusty eye whenever one feels torn between two worlds. Whether transitioning from child to adult or whatever to whatever, all it takes is that tension, that simultaneous lack and sense of belonging, to drive one to erect anew all those immature personal safeguards against reality.

This has been the hardest thing in making the post-graduation transition. I’m not in college anymore, and I’ve grown a bit old for the hanging out, drinking, partying, barhopping thing. At the same time, I’m bored with people who have careers, families, houses, 2.4 pets/children, etc. I’m still too young and wild and viviparous to justify any claim of feeling "old", but it’s tough to convince myself I’m still 18 when I’ve got to find my own health insurance, pay monthly bills, manage a career and feed an IRA. I’ve taken up hobbies like politics and cooking, but I find myself wanting to set aside more time for video games. I try to pick up the fantasy books I once voraciously digested as a young lad, but find myself growing bored and impatient with writing that resonates like the basement of an outhouse.

I am somewhat troubled by the whole thing, but not too much so. As with most things this too is seasonal, and may simply be a sign that winter is finally here again.

Now about those gargoyles…