Last Tuesday, I sat on a coffee table in Josh's apartment and gave him a formal schooling in Dr. Mario on the Nintendo. I dominated. The TV was sitting on the floor, in the corner, one of three in the living room for Fred's upcoming Midtown Tetris Challenge. I wouldn't be in attendance for the Tetris Challenge, but I had thrown my full support behind it. Later, Fred came back and proudly showed off his new Fender Rhodes electric piano, a relic from the 60s or 70s on which Radiohead's Everything in it's Right Place can be perfectly replicated. We tinkered around on it, they made me sit down and forbid me to play chopsticks, but nothing else would come to me. A few years of piano lessons and I couldn't locate anything but chopsticks and a few pretty chords. Don't tell my piano teacher.
When I was a kid, if you had asked me how I saw a typical night for me in my mid-twenties, I'd have pictured grown up things. Paying bills. Wife. Kids. Coffee. Harder crossword puzzles. Then I'd have gone back to the NES. And tinkering with a Piano.
Didn't work out that way. I think that when you're growing up you see a few discrete lines between childhood and adulthood. A driver's license, high school graduation, and a few big birthdays officially usher you into the land of grown-ups. You get bills, kids, coffee, and you suddenly know how to handle more stuff.
At 26, I've got the bills, but no kids, still can't stand coffee, and I still have questions for mom and dad about how to handle stuff. And I've lost the piano lessons. The world is every bit as perplexing as it was when I was a kid. Actually, it's more perplexing. It's weird to have time for Nintendo, and have friends who sponsor Tetris tournaments. So I still don't feel qualified for the whole grown-up thing. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up and I still shudder at the thought of big responsibilities. Not in a worrisome way, but I'd rather not be the last line of defense between order and chaos.
And yet: Age has to carry with it some innate and automatic growth, despite my perceived lack of preparedness. I'm more grown up than I realize. I know some stuff. For instance, that the way I used to see growing up - with the clear, dividing lines between kid and adult - was wrong. It's a gradual spectrum, a gradual ascent (descent? assent?). We've all got some grown-up and we've all got some kid. Some of us spend it on video games, some of us - all of us - still have worry, some of us carry our love for high-school drama with us. Having time for the Nintendo and piano tinkering does not restore my adolescence, even if I wanted it to, but it's still a good time.