I’m old, y’all. It must have happened when I wasn’t looking. Sometime in this car ride of life when I took my eyes off the road just for a second — probably to look at the hot guy in the next car over — everything changed. And when I started paying attention again, I realized I was a geriatric 22 years of age.
I don’t know when I got to be so old. It seems like just yesterday that I was picking my nose and wiping it on the people I didn’t like (okay, actually that was yesterday — good habits are hard to break). But seriously, suddenly you just stop one day and realize that somewhere along the way, you started referring to your bedtime as “turning in,” you no longer make fun of people less fortunate than you, and animals in the road now cause you to swerve rather than speed up.
And I realized, in horror, that I’m as close in age to 14 as I am to 30.
Suddenly, I’m in my last year of college — the most depressing place to be in school. They even give me and my kind pity-inspired discounts at the movie theaters (hey, I’m a senior, I’m a citizen, right?). When asked by someone here what year I am, my answer is always followed by their involuntary response, “Whoa!” We are borderline pariahs, seen by the lower three classes as a class of has-beens who are on their way out, and thus not worth bothering with. It’s almost as if we don’t even go to this school — like the people in TD or Silliman.
In little more than half a year, I’m going to be leaving here. I know, I know. Let’s all cry a bit. Maybe a moment of silence. Apparently, the powers-that-be will be kicking me out because they think that I have learned all that I need to know. Yet, while I will soon possess a degree from Yale University, I still have difficulty reading the watches without the numbers on them. And still, I can’t figure out what the hell happens to all of my pencils.
No, I definitely shouldn’t be leaving. I don’t want to. I still haven’t come to terms with the fact that, in the real world, there’s no such thing as “summer vacation,” there exists this barbaric institution known as marriage, and children are actually something people desire to have rather than being the unfortunate result of improperly-used birth control.
And now my inability to thwart the aging process has finally caught up with me. They are telling me that it is almost time to go, but I still don’t feel that I understand or have completely mastered this place. There are still so many unanswered questions. Such as, how can our local convenience store dare to put the word “gourmet” in its name when it sells something called “Pokemon fruit bites?” And, while we’re on the subject, how about them putting that sign up in the window that advertises “affordable prices?” Am I the only one who, after being rung up at the cash register, is thinking, “Do I get a crack pipe with that?” And why didn’t Counting Crows play “Mr. Jones?” Does anyone actually know how to open attachments in pine? Why do my residential college gates weigh 50 pounds and have huge spikes sticking out of them?
Even outside of Yale, I still have questions about the world. For instance, if a tree falls in a forest — Okay, screw it, if I fall down drunk in the street, does the event cease to exist if I was too hammered to remember it happening? If the average woman is a size 16, then why is that the only size left whenever I go shopping? And of course, I have questions about myself. Am I going to succeed in life or will I end up an agent of my own destruction? What if I’ve peaked at Yale and it’s all downhill from here? If it’s true that there is only one person out there for everyone, what if my soulmate is, like, an Eskimo? Why is my right breast substantially smaller than my left?
(Okay, you can quit looking now.)
But of course, there’s the most daunting of all the unanswered questions. Am I going to be able to find a job in this economy that’s more frozen than Walt Disney’s head (allegedly)?
Friends and family try to be reassuring, saying things like, “Oh, I’m sure you’ll find a job.” Yeah, and I’m sure everything turned out all right at the end of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
Yes, the future is scary. This is mostly because, as is expected after 22 years of living, I’ve definitely made some mistakes thus far. Seeing “Wild, Wild West” is definitely up there. And, yes, projectile vomiting in the Yale Bowl during Paul Simon was a bad call (my apologies to all who were sitting in my row at the time).
It took me two years to figure out that I shouldn’t be an English major, time that I spent crafting ill-conceived, contrived, pseudo-intellectual papers with really long sentences, some of which are still going on. But one does learn from their mistakes. I’ve decided to wait on “Wilder, Wilder West” until it goes straight to beta. I managed to, well, hold it all in during the last football game, surely to the delight of the custodians. And I eventually found my niche as an American studies major, with a concentration in not attending class and starting my papers an hour after they are due.
Still, I feel as if the four years here should have served as a kind of pre-college orientation so that one could first find their friends, find their way around, and realize how toolish they look on those scooters before they actually start college. But, alas, that’s not the way it works because, due to some great oversight, I don’t make the rules. But maybe if I ask really politely, they’ll let me stay another year or two. I think I’ll write an inquiring letter, just in case. If only I could find my pencil —
Noelle Hancock is a senior/pariah in Saybrook College.