Pomp / by laurel

One year ago (give or take a couple of weeks), I squirmed, sweating under the weight of adulthood, mortarboard, and a (cruelly) black robe. I was floating in a sea of about 500 other similarly (or exactly) dressed 'adults' (I use the term loosely, even still). Sitting in the front row within careful eyeshot of the dean of students, as well as the El Presidente and the entire faculty of my great institution, I was stubbornly listening to "Hey Jude" on my iPod. On repeat. For the duration of the 2.5 hour ceremony.

It felt like a funeral. When those blithering, triumphant "Na na-na nanana Naaaaah's" hit my ears I wanted to shed this awkward skin and run screaming for the hills. Nobody, not 500 people, not 500 beers, not 500 'congratulations' could have made me feel less alone. We were the class of 2005.

But one year out and we had survived the amusingly anti-climactic slide into adulthood. We were pushed from the chute, suckling infants mawing for attention; attention we have yet to--and I secretly suspect we never will--receive.

Most of my friends have dealt with their abandonment issues ostensibly by foo-fooing the tawdry, living breathing facade of this wild, wild, West as simply being a springboard for their journey to the next best thing. That being, other countries that will undoubtedly ignore them much like this one has.

But don't tell them that.

These winds of On the Road, Baudrillard-esque mild hysteria tend to eddy in my little corner of paradise, much in the same way that the 210 is forever wheezing in asthmatic convulsions under the shadow of those smog-hoarding foothills. I suspect there's a Dean Moriarty in us all, but I also suspect our youthful wanderlust is merely the glittering Mardi Gras mask that conceals what we are bereft to recognize:

That we are devastatingly less fascinating and complex than we appear.

If what I deftly pass myself off as resembles interesting (even if only mildly), then what actually exists there is more akin to a banal averageness. But I'm okay with this. A year ago, perhaps, facing the crushing blow of admitting that I and my youthful proclivities were nothing to laud didn't settle well. Now, though, now I'm okay with this.

And here I am, stupidly residing over the very gaping jaws of the San Andreas Fault, every day mimicking its crooked path over the cracked, hot skin of the Conquered Desert by way of the (insert numerical identity here) Freeway. I've made a little niche for myself and I like it just fine out here poised recklessly at the edge of America, waiting for the shakedown. This craggy spine of a state could care less, and in fact, most ignores my comings and goings (which suits me just fine). I think I might like to call this place 'home,' if it would let me. But then again, there's that leering monster in the corner, the one that pushes wanderers to forever wander; that causes the restless to be proverbially insomniac.

I blame my friends.

You don't get to choose them, or maybe you do, but mine are no exception: Each and every one equally idealistic, equally quasi-ironic (a particular brand of humor which suits me just fine), and equally disgusted with the thought of 'putting down roots.'

I can just hear them.


How prosaic.

Or, more appropriately, "We all just came from the candy-colored la-la land that promised us Marriage (capital M) and an SUV by the age of 22, yet here we are, scorned lovers of 'The System,' (and unwitting believers in the siren call of life as a pastor's spouse). What did you expect us to do?"

(Okay, so they probably wouldn't say that either. More likely, "I started to read your blog but it was too long, so I stopped." Well if you've made it this far, you're steps ahead of the crowd, you little trooper, you.)

Nonetheless, this month marks the one year anniversary when, for the first time in my tender, young life, I scowled into the canopy of ozone and helicopters and shouted, "Gah! Does it even really matter?"

(To which the sky had no response, and I must admit I'm still a little bitter about this)

But when I'm adding up the checks and balances of this adult life (dreams? Check. Post-collegiate idealism? Check. Money? Oh...), I can tentatively form an answer I found to be disconcerting a year ago, but now has taken on a plaintive and contented shrug-of-the-shoulders:

You never know. You just never know.