There are moments in life, by which I mean to say my life, when you, by which I mostly just mean I, realize that you have fundamentally changed without even noticing. (I should probably be a professional clear-and-unqualified-statement-maker. I am very good at it.) Last night I went out, IN PUBLIC, to pick up dinner in my pajamas. I don’t really own pajamas qua pajamas, so I was actually wearing a half-heartedly unraveling sweater and sweatpants the color of sadness. I used to be the kind of person for whom “leggings aren’t pants” was a comfortingly constant mantra, but now, apparently, I am just a blob, well on my way to accomplishing my goal of becoming the first ever cat lady/nun.
This is who I have become: someone who does stereotypically depressing things without noticing it and then later writes about them. I didn’t intend to turn out this way. I forget who I used to be, but I’m sure it was someone who doesn’t think it’s acceptable to 1) listen to Connecticut’s #1 Hit Music Station while driving and softly mumbling essay outlines to herself 2) eat week-old Thai food and watch old Westerns on Netflix Instant or 3) note a bunch of pretty unattractive things that she does in list format in a public forum.
I am of the firm belief that people revert to their former selves when they visit their childhood homes, a theory I tested out when I went home last week to go to the dentist. Sitting on my girlhood duvet, I remembered who I used to be: someone who alphabetized her books by last name of author, who made decorative wall hangings out of old CDs, who collaged her old concert ticket stubs on a bulletin board. Someone fun and productive, if slightly OCD.
You also learn a lot about people from seeing the houses they grew up in (I am really just talking about me, again. Sorry!) This past weekend, I went on a retreat and stayed at one of my friends’ houses. I found out many things about him this weekend, like that he owns a samurai sword and that his mother makes her own pickles, both of which make a strange sort of cosmic sense.
I also found out something else about myself at this house, or more accurately, at a strip mall 20.7 miles away from this house: I am awful at laser tag.
I am just literally so bad at laser tag! I remember being decent to good at it in grade school, its real heyday. I was definitely fine and non-embarrassing. You would not have shunned me for my lack of laser tag prowess. But when I went to play laser tag with my improv group this weekend, a real phrase that I just wrote down and would never be ashamed to say in front of any sort of authority figure or adult, I was CRUSHED.
The laser tag game consisted of myself, eight other twenty-year-old Yale students and a phalanx of tiny elf-like children whose demon eyes glowed with the heat of battle under the blacklights. I was 100% the weakest link in this scenario. I actually came in dead last, and have the little scorecard to prove it. I paid good money to spend half an hour running around a purple forest while angry ten-year-olds screamed and shot at me. Ten-year-olds have so much anger nowadays! Especially when they are ten-year-olds who must kill. And while these little mutant warrior dwarves, or “children,” shot my laser pack so many times that it stopped lighting up and I had to ask the attendant for help, I just wanted a juice box, and to go home. A home where there are no pickles or Thai food containers or sweatpants. A home where I am the healthily competitive and generally competent person I used to be, instead of a girl who has, word to God, been actually knocked over by a brigade of rotund, maniacally giggling toddlers.
Instead, I blew 75 cents on a novelty moustache and a huge plastic ring at the arcade vending machines and spent the rest of the afternoon stylishly sulking and twirling my Fu Manchu.
The point is, I guess I should build up the possible educational and restorative benefits of my childhood bedroom as much as possible, because I am pretty sure that’s where I’m headed indefinitely in about eighteen months. Thanks, American Studies!