I woke up the other morning, throat burning and the inside of my mouth contaminated to the point that it was difficult to swallow. Fall is coming, I thought to myself, looking out the window to see that the leaves had turned orange and now resided on the ground, instead of their rightful spot on some red oak. The worst part about getting a cold this early in the season isn’t so much the physical annoyance, but rather the not-so-subtle reminder that gone is the romance of summer; the time of year where everyone is carefree and liberated, willing to disavow their inhibitions, if only for a few months out of the year.
It’s now “cuffing” season, that period where people feel inclined to suppress their spontaneity and adventurous nature. No longer are people trying to go out for drinks on a Monday night. That type of behavior maybe gets saved for the weekends. Wearing clothing that covers less instead of more of your body? Probably more likely most of us pack on a few pounds for warmth. At least in the Midwest, I can see why Netflix and chill has become so popular: it’s simply too damn cold outside. It dropped down to fifty degrees the other day and I became a little depressed thinking that I might not get to feel the rays of that glorious circle up in the sky for another nine months.
As summer progressed, I couldn’t help but notice that more and more people from high school and college were getting married; mind you, not getting into relationships, but instead jumping from the lust stage headfirst into holy matrimony. I don’t know if this concept concerns me, mostly on account that statistically fifty percent of couples that tie the knot are bound to separate at some point. And that’s a sad thought; the idea that someone you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with one day will no longer even be a part of it.
The worst part about this growing trend is that women I’ve previously been involved with have also entered into either relationships or marriage. Surface level, I’m happy they have found someone they click with on a much deeper level than the relationship I had with them. Perhaps the most unsettling thing is realizing that when I knew them, they were different, more willing to throw caution and social convention to the wind. Now, they are just like everyone else, settling into 401k-like jobs and looking into purchasing a home. Even scarier, I’m nowhere that stage of my life. I know I’m struggling when I look into my bank account and am lucky if a four-digit number is under the amount remaining tab.
But anyone who knows me knows that the most distressing part of it all is that my maturation process is so far behind that of so many of my peers. I look in the mirror and wonder if twenty-five years of age should be seen as a sign that I need to get it together, or that I’m still young enough to continue living and only having to worry about myself.
See, back in college, no one really cared what other people thought. It was like being in school was its own little universe, and the outside world was just an abstract place that was of no consequence to the people in school. Maybe that’s why they say going to college is the best part of your life. You get to go on hiatus from the pressures and financial realities of the world for a few years, learn a few things, and then come back with an enlightened perspective.
I’m no idiot, arguably. I want everything my dad, his dad, and the countless other dads before them had; that being a family, mortgage, two or three kids, a dog (and definitely not a cat), but probably not the white picket fence. It’s just sometimes I feel that timeline gets expedited when other people are already there and I’m not even close. In every evaluation, someone has to come in last, and maybe this one belongs to me. But I like to think I’m more the tortoise than the hare. I’ll get to the finish line; it just won’t be in the most conventional way.
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