Impersonating Adulthood

This past weekend, I decided to take a mini-vacation. My chosen destination? Bowling Green, Kentucky; home to Western Kentucky University. My Alma mater.

Lately I’ve been feeling like an awkward adult–going to work, paying my bills, being responsible, and feeling like an impersonator the entire time. I don’t feel like an adult. Somewhere deep in my psyche, I feel more like a college student still. When introducing myself, I catch myself trying to say I’m twenty-one. When describing events mid-college career, I date them as only “a year or two ago.”

What the…?

Still, I didn’t think much of it.

Friday afternoon, I drove into town, glancing fondly at the familiar sights. I grumbled at the excruciatingly slow traffic—“It’s green, people! Go!” “Why are we going five under the speed limit? Ugh!” And I wondered where to go. I had come to visit friends. However, there were very few left in town. Then, it really hit me:

I graduated nearly two years ago.

Obviously, so had many of my friends.

It hit me again as I strolled into Spencer’s with my friend Calvin. We didn’t talk about it until last night, but we both glanced around, expecting to see someone we knew. We didn’t. The customers were strangers, and looked to us so very young.

Friday evening, I met another friend for dinner at Greener Groundz, a fabulous little place that opened mid-way through my college career, and quickly became one the the hangouts for Western students. I glanced around again, and saw only one familiar face: Dr. Dietle, my Western Civ professor.

I asked my friend about the crowd, and was dismayed to discover that Western students didn’t really hang out at Greener Groundz so much anymore. What? What is this madness? They’d found other cool new places to haunt. I sat back in the booth, stunned, and stared at the crowd of families and older folk, with only a smattering of college students mixed in.

Bowling Green had changed. I could no longer take refuge there, and escape adulthood.

Well, not completely.

Rachel, the dear friend who hosted me for the weekend, and I spent several hours Saturday afternoon in Barnes and Noble. We claimed a table in the cafe, and the stack of books grew taller and taller as the hours passed. We spoke of feminism and poetry, literature and writing. And, of course, past exploits and men. I gasped in outrage when I noticed the writer’s magazines were placed in the “men’s interest” section.

We ate a late dinner at Vino’s, and shared two pitchers of Amber Bock until closing time. Then we sat on the heated deck with the staff sharing cigarettes, and partook in a free shot, courtesy of the manager.

No talk of work. No obsessive checking of the time. It was glorious. Louisville seemed so far away.

Sunday dawned a beautiful day, and we welcomed it by unashamedly sleeping past noon. After a delicious home-cooked breakfast, we spent the afternoon drinking hot tea and reading on the couch, and drinking hot tea and talking outside, sans coats. Not my normal routine of grocery shopping, doing laundry, and cooking the week’s lunches, to be sure.

I’m still not entirely sure how to overcome the feeling that I’m impersonating a grown-up. But I’ve learned I’m not the only one that feels this way, and that is a comfort. I suppose it’s part of the transitional period–and its late appearance is a symptom of my generation’s coming of age at this moment in time. But my generation? We’re smart. We’ll figure it out.

1 Comment on "Impersonating Adulthood"

  1. You think BG/WKU has changed in two years, wait until you’ve been gone from campus for 13 years like I have. I’ve never heard of any of the places (except B&N) you mentioned in your post because they didn’t exist a decade ago, and there’s a good chance they won’t exist a decade from now. BG is an ever-changing town. Since I was there (95-99) the WKU enrollment has doubled, the tuition has more than quadrupled, and they’ve built about a dozen new buildings on campus. All of this in the past 15 years or so. You just wait a few more years and the WKU you once knew and loved will hardly be recognizable for you anymore either.

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