Thursday, January 22, 2009

You know you're all grown up when... 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!


Abby said...

"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?"

I tend to believe the latter, and I thought maybe that's just because that's the path I chose for myself, but then before I left I had a lot of people that I really trust and respect tell me the same thing. But when it comes down to it, I feel a lot more comfortable living this life here in Santiago than facing the pressure of having a "real job" in the US. So maybe I am taking the easy way out.

Julie said...

I'm just happy you didn't break your toe again.

Sara said...

I prefer to think that the people among us who choose to stay in their comfy middle class suburbs with desk jobs and 401Ks are actually scared of what we are doing. Most of my friends are going to grad school now (a goal for my future,just not now) and I was feeling down one day and told my friend that I felt stupid because I wasn't chasing some big academic dream like everyone else. She turned and said "Wow. I can't believe you said that because I think it's way harder to do what you are doing." It made me feel better and just goes to prove my theory that it requires a special type of maturity and quest for adventure than most people have.

Oh, hope those bruises heal. I went down in an icy parking lot and I feel your pain.

victoria.magyar said...

diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks. If everybody moved to Santiago, how fun would it be? You'd run into old high school pals at La Sirena. I can't comment too lucidly, because no matter what I'm doing I'm thinking about how great it would be if I could just do something else.

Oh, but I will say, my job is not great. But it enables me to be with the person I love and plan a new adventure sometime soon. I miss foreign adventure sometimes though.

(Sorry for all the comments recently. I took a sick day and am catching up on your blog.)