Adventure 8 – being honest with the internet….and attaching my name to it.

Initial disclosure. This posting isn’t so much about an adventure as it is about the concept of adventure. Second disclosure. I don’t consider myself a writer as such. I can write things, certainly … subject verb object … and it generally works rather nicely. I even use things like metaphors and similes. But a writer in the real sense of the word – the sense of being able to communicate profound human truths in interesting or perhaps pithy ways … this is not something I do in a written form. But tonight I’m going to make the attempt. Because tonight is my birthday. And I’m slightly drunk. And I’m alone. And if we combine those three things into a single metaphor, you kind of have my life.

Now, I’m not actually depressive. I’ve been through counseling, and I’ve worked through most of my issues, and I’m really in a pretty good place in my life. I think. But as I face the big 2-8, I can’t help but feel a certain sense of “I’m an adult now.” Which is so damn scary.

I suppose I should explain my place within the world of the year of 52 adventures. I was kind of there at the beginning. Actually, I should back up a bit (this is where the slightly-drunk part kicks in). The fabulous Kimberly Hula and I go way back. Our story together becomes particularly interesting during our senior year of high school – the early parts of the year 2000. We dated. Back when I was heterosexual. A friend and I played a prank on her and her bff (who hated me). “Midnight picnic,” we told them. “In the park. It’s right behind the police station, in the woods, so you know it’s safe.” We planted a hatchet and a shovel in the woods, and re-discovered them as we walked down a path in the Orland Park forest preserve. I’m not sure she’s forgiven me to this day. At any rate, in retaliation, she had me kidnapped. True story.

But at the transition from 2009 to 2010, Kimberly and I found ourselves reunited and standing on the super-swank and extraordinarily cold balcony of a super-swank and pleasantly climate-controlled condominium in Chicago. Beautiful hardwood floors; bookcases full of good literature; stainless steel appliance;,10-foot tall windows with a panoramic view of the Greatest City in the WorldTM; and an adorable couple who shared it as they prepare for their tasteful and elegant wedding. It was everything I’ve ever wanted for myself.

So at the transition from 2009 to 2010, we found ourselves standing on this super-swank and extraordinarily cold balcony, and we were, shall we say, sentimental. You’ve likely heard the story in which we swore then and there that 2010 would be “different.” That we’d stand up for what we believe in, that we would make things happen. We would be reborn and rebuilt and re-invigorated. I mean, isn’t that what we all drunkenly swear on new year’s eve? That this year will be “different.” Just like all the other blindly optimistic vows we make. But this particular year’s vow’s were a bit different because we’d been well educated since we graduated high school.

The following morning’s drunk-and-also-hungover polar bear plunge would be our “apotheosis by ice” – our baptism by hypothermia that would cement us as blood-brothers into a new and promising decade.

That lasted me a total of three weeks.

Don’t get me wrong. When I swore it, it was the real deal. And I’m not sure that’s faded. Because I’ve been adventuring. (1) I Polar Bear plunged. (2) I asked out the guy I had my first real (REAL) crush on. (3) I stared in the East-Central Illinois premier of RENT. (4) I gave myself a hernia trying to build abs of steel. (4) I founded a public charity. (5) I’m training for the Chicago Triathlon. (6) I introduced my toddler nephew to “The Bean” (cloudgate) in Chicago. (7) I wore heels – in public. And this, I guess, is number (8) being brutally honest with the internet.

As I’ve said, I’m approaching adventure a bit differently tonight. I think it has to do with that sense of “as of one hour and forty-seven minutes ago, I’m an adult now.”

I’m now 28. I’m graduating from law school in 2 weeks. The number-21-ranked University of Illinois. Hell of a school. I have no paying job lined up, but I’ve founded a charity to raise money for medical research into a cure and prevention of AIDS. I’m taking the bar exam at the end of July. In New York. I had to take out an extra loan to do so. My school thinks I just purchased a $2500 macbook air. And I haven’t been on third date in over a year.

So Kimberly and I are standing on the balcony, and promising apotheosis, which is a new word that I learned on that super swank and extraordinarily cold balcony, and I’m counting the number of lights in the Greatest City in the WorldTM, and imagining the promise and potential for a new year, and although I wouldn’t admit it to Kim at the time, and I feel guilty for even bringing it up here, there remained the cynical (or pragmatic) voice in the back of my head (the one with the voice that’s halfway between Meryl Streep and Dennis Haysbert) that generally says things like “those jeans give you have Mom Hips” or “that GPA isn’t going to get you into Columbia” (this voice is generally both authoritarian and accurate), but which was on this particular extraordinarily cold evening asking “when does potential run out?”

And that’s the question with which I am left today.

When does potential run out?

I think it just kind of did.

I mean. I don’t really mean that in a bad way. Well. Maybe in a less than ideal way. Or least a less than idealistic way. But I’ve hit that point in my life. I have my education, I have my career path, and I’m working on doing things. But I think this is the year that people will stop looking forward to what I’m hopefully going to do, and start looking at what I’ve done. Which is a surprisingly short list.

I recently saw on Facebook that one of my friends (not a close friend, but a friend) just opened a show on Broadway. To be fair, actually, a slightly less-close friend opened one there earlier this year. Another set of friends (closer friends, this group) is opening a hell of a show off-broadway. Another friend posted new photos of the show (just closed) that he did with John Mahoney. Another friend just won a woman an emergency order of protection against a rapist.

These are things they’ve done. I … on the other hand … well, I just haven’t … actually … done …  anything yet. I’ve prepared to do a lot of things. I’ve … studied a lot. And I’ve laid a lot of groundwork. And I’ve started to build from the ground up – in a way that may or may not pay off handsomely for me or for the world. But for now, as of yet, I have done … actually … nothing. All there is is potential. Which maybe just ran out.

If I were to end there, this would be quite the existentialist rant – nothing is left, all is bleak and there an end. But, as I say, it’s not an upsetting thing, necessarily, that potential maybe ran out. It just is. Now I have to actually achieve as opposed to suggesting that I might someday achieve.  So the bar’s been raised. Which I guess is good.

It’s just so damn scary.

So I guess that’s today’s adventure. I thought it was (7) “being honest with the internet.” Maybe it’s also (8) “standing up and being an adult.” I mean. Is that it? Is that the moral I was supposed to take from this whole “having adventures” thing? That adventuring isn’t some kind of high that we grasp sporadically, but something that we do throughout the mundane day-to-day? That it’s okay to have a homely little apartment in Central Illinois and no one to share it when I’m closer to 30 than 25? That the biggest adventure we can have in life is to actually plunge in and live life from day to day? I mean that would turn the polar bear plunge into a really convenient metaphor, but Christ. How irritatingly “Our Town.”

I don’t like being an adult. And it’s only been two hours and thirteen minutes. But I suppose I’ve made that decision already, so it’s too late to change my mind. When I wake up tomorrow, I’m an adult. It’ll be my first full day as an adult, which is a little bit creepy, but there you go. The sick thing about this is the sense in which because tomorrow is my first full day as an adult, it’s the beginning of a new adventure. Which means that there’s new potential.

~Mark Perry

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