...you look like someone's beaten the crap out of the backs of your legs. Luckily, this is not a rite of passage that comes with turning 25, which I grudgingly did not too long ago. Rather, the two enormous purple bruises on my thighs are something that, despite the wisdom one supposedly accumulates during a quarter century on earth, I managed to do to myself.
No, not on purpose, sicko. My discolored legs are the unfortunate result of my letting my inner child get the better of me.
Last weekend, I was strolling through Parque O'Higgins when I stumbled upon the Playground that Time Forgot. With its delapidated, corroded equipment and enormous fuel tank, the deserted place was either tetanus or a gas explosion -- whichever comes first -- waiting to happen.
My recent cringe-inducing birthday may be to blame for the fact that this did not deter me. I was still young, damn it, and I was going to go down that rusty-ass slide.
As I scaled the rungs, I began to worry that I might not even fit; playground equipment generally isn't built with adult female hips in mind. This made it even more gratifying when I was able to wedge myself in and set off on my way down.
My expectations weren't high. I had expected to skid along like a sunblock-smeared toddler in shorts, but gravity had other plans. I sailed. I whooshed. I was schooling this slide just as well as any four-year old could.
My glory was short lived. Barely two seconds elapsed before exhilaration became befuddling, throbbing pain. It took me a few moments to realize what had happened: The metal sides of the slide, which had funneled me comfortably downward at the beginning, turned in slightly at the bottom, and I had landed on top of them at full speed.
"I'm going to get huge bruises there," I muttered as I limped away.
Indeed. Just two hours later, twin blotches the size of small fists had taken up residence on the backs of my legs. They had settled in even more two days later, when I didn't even bother to bring my swimsuit to a pool party because I wasn't in the mood to get taken aside and discreetly asked if I was safe at home.
Today, my loyal purple friends are going stronger than ever before. And I can't help but wonder if that ramshackle slide in Parque O'Higgins was trying to tell me something. Something along the lines of, "Get the hell OFF. You're not four years old. Deal." Maybe it was not-so-subtly reminding me that I am, in fact, an adult.
For many people, adulthood doesn't mean moving to South America to "see how things go." Or renting cheap rooms in other people's apartments or daydreaming about what far-off city to put next on their list. For these people, adulthood is a desk job, a stable address and a long-term savings plan.
These are not necessarily bad things. In fact, there are times when I feel like there's nothing I want more. It usually doesn't take me that long to recant, though. I still feel more or less the same way I did when I went to information sessions at my college's career center senior year: I wanted something different.
Does that make me immature? Is post-collegiate globetrotting simply a way to avoid adult responsibilities while enjoying exotic scenery? Or, on the other hand, does it imply even more responsibility, maturity and independence than living a more settled life in one's home country would? Can we even make a fair comparison at all?
I'm not trying to criticize or belittle anyone's choices. I'm legitimately interested in what people have to say about this. So please let my bruises and me know what you think!