I look around Annie's condo with jealousy. Granted, my apartment is nice, but hardly the sort of place where I could host a wine and cheese party. She owns, not rents, and recently renovated the kitchen to further establish that it was hers. That alone scores her a greater share of Adult Points than I have yet accumulated in my life and will until my wedding (a loving and sensible, legal marriage is worth oodles). What do I own? Two computers, some furniture, half an HDTV. If I miss a few payments on my car, it will be repossessed, so I certainly cannot say I truly own that yet. I have never done and presently can't imagine doing more than renting a place, either with money or - as now - labor. I have a steady job, but it has a time limit and I am hardly satisfied here even were this a more permanent position.
Zack, who had been home from his sculpting moratorium in Maine for at least two weeks before I knew about it, reportedly felt or feels that I am ahead enough in the acquisition of Points as to be unable to relate to him. This information comes secondhand from Emily, who cited a year old conversation - Zack has not said a word to this effect to me and I don't imagine he would - but I don't agree. True, our lives don't match up perfectly - he can vanish for months with professional impunity, I literally live at my job; I am on the cusp of legitimate wedlock, he mentions and shows more than once over the course of the party that Cristin and he are affectionate but not together (though they whisper of moving to Chicago together) - but I don't feel that this corrodes my ability to understand and sympathize with his plight. I imagine he could relate to being stuck at a job that was not ideal in order to support your lover, of being terrified and thrilled at an uncertain future six months away, of fighting mediocrity and mundanity to be creative and a little closer to the divine. He has been one of my best friends for all of my adult life, whenever that started, and I only have faith in his potential.
I don't quite know that I am eager to truly be an adult, though I know that the time was not distant that the mere though filled me with dread. It is not something I place into my identity; I am almost twenty-seven - which is almost thirty - but actually have to think about whether that is true. My age stopped meaning anything to me around the time that it legally allowed me to do things I didn't much care to do in the first place.
I'm not, at that, sure I have enough Adult Points to trade them in for the prize of the title. Am I an adult because I finally started paying of student loans that will plague me until I retire? Because I finally finished revisions to my first novel, sent it off to publishers, and am in the market for an agent? Does having an apartment full of wedding invitations and Emily's dress hanging from a hook, of finally having picked out the titanium band I love, do the trick? Or is even seeking to be thought of as an adult a fool's errand as long as I resist being a breeder, eat sugary cereal with soy milk, and better love my grad school girlfriend for deciding to kayak around Thailand in May?
As we make asses of ourselves playing Outburst and Cranium, as our hostess Annie gets quite tipsy on wine and teases her boyfriend Glen about moving in with her, I decide that the games are made up and the points don't matter. We are all just improvising.
Soon in Xenology: One Art.
One Art "Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.