Sunday, June 19, 2011

all the young dudes

Ah, Summer. When the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the populations of this nation's fine universities are released back into the wilds with the rest of the unsuspecting adult population.

Dealing with these young adults-in-training is odd when you're thirty-ish; it wasn't so many years ago that you were in their shoes but it's a shock sometimes that there are all these people around who can vote and drink and work a professional job who just seem so young. 

Last week I went out to local place that plays blues music on Tuesday nights.When I walked in the door someone carded me and slapped a green wristband on me to show I was twenty-one; I'm at that point now where I beam and sometimes let out an embarrassing little giggle when someone is asking me for my ID in earnest.

Later in the night a guy who was cute despite some rather questionable facial hair asked me to dance. He was really into the local lindy-hop scene, he told me with no discernible trace of irony, which was how he found this place. He told me about another club he liked out in Kirkland.

'Oh do you live on the eastside?' I asked.

'During the summers yes,' he said. And just as I was conjuring some sort of summer cottage situation in my head he added, 'the rest of the year I'm at WSU in eastern Washington.'

I bit my tongue, remembering how much I hated at that age the way people were always reminding me how young I was, as if I wasn't aware  (and to be fair, I did think I was rather grown up at that age but this delusion is a right of passage).

The day before I had spent about an hour talking to a recent graduate who was newly living in New York and looking to break into book publishing. I shared what wisdom I could and reminisced a bit about my days there. It was eerie how familiar she sounded, my own self coming back to me across the line. I recognized her excitement, her fear and most of all that sheer edge of determination in her voice. I told her lots of people wished they had the guts to do what she'd done, that I heard that from people all the time. 'I know. People always say they wish they could move here,' she said, 'but I did it.'

All at once I recognize in myself the exact mix of pity, generosity and wariness that I was once on the other side of when I was fresh out of college.

God. Were we ever that young?

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