Forever Sixteen


A long time from now…isn’t so long from now.

It’s a mercy that time crawls while we’re children. Every year feels like five. We’re allowed to be small and let the world feel big. We’re allowed to feel as though time will unwind before us slowly, like a sweater pulled apart stich by stich.

We wish our way to ten. Then to eleven—because goodness knows the gap between ages was wider, then. We want to be thirteen, then sixteen. At sixteen we’re content to stay.

But we don’t.

I’ll admit, I’m still sixteen going on seventeen. Adults still don’t make sense, but neither do children—even though I’m one of their number. I still do spur-of-the-moment, random things like running through thunder storms or high-fiving strangers on the sidewalk. I read literature aimed at teenagers. I daydream. Constantly.

My outer self, however, is twenty-one, soon to be twenty-two, going on thirty.

Do I like it? Not one bit.

Circumstances surrounding my first two years of college forbad me from being the teenager I still was. I’m not done with being a teen. I had the young-and-fun beaten out of me too early. Years I should have been able to relish…I couldn’t.

So nothing in me wants to be twenty-two. But soon I’ll graduate, come into an apartment, pay bills, pay taxes, buy groceries. I’ll be a sixteen-year-old doing grownup things.

These are the first days of the rest of my life. Whatever that entails.

Lest you think I’m depressed…I’m not. But things are what they are, and this is the state of things. I must be an adult. I am not ready. I probably never will be.

I’m perfectly fine with living the rest of my life—all eternity, for that matter—as a sixteen-year-old. I’ll pay the bills, I’ll be responsible, I’ll do adult things.

But growing up is optional. 


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