Monday, June 13, 2011

The Summer I Think I Became an Adult

I graduated from Ohio State eight years ago today -- specifically, on Friday the 13th -- which means I could have gone to college twice more in the meantime.

I remember thinking at the time that I couldn't wait to get into the "real world," to actually apply the skills I'd honed. How idealistic. (And if I think that about myself now, I can't wait to look back in 8 more years. Or 58.)

Many people would say that adulthood starts that day, or perhaps when you graduate high school. I've always considered my entrance into adulthood, however, as starting midway between those two points, exactly 10 years ago this summer.

June 2001 was the first summer in which I didn't return to Defiance. Instead, I scanned the classifieds for a room to sublet and moved in with a handful of girls I had never before met. The 12th Avenue house just east of OSU was charming in a grungy sort of way. My tiny furnished room on the third floor was small, with an even smaller window overlooking the back. The acts at the nearby Newport Music Hall drifted into my bedroom all summer.

I had just made my largest purchase to date -- $2,000 to my parents for the 1987 Buick Century my sister Katie nicknamed "Smurfette" for obvious reasons once you saw the color. Katie and I had both driven it throughout high school, and I wasn't likely to get a better deal for a set of off-campus wheels.

Four days a week -- 30 hours a week -- I worked as a page at the Ohio Statehouse, specifically in the Clerk's Office of the House of Representatives. That's where I met Paul. We started dating a few weeks later.

Of course, if you define adulthood as paying all of your own bills, I wasn't quite there yet. It was around this time or perhaps the school year that followed that I started paying an increasing amount of my own rent, food and housing expenses. And when I visited home, Mom and Dad were always sure to send me back to Columbus with a full tank of gas. So I suppose my slide into adulthood was more like a kiddie coaster than Millennium Force.

By that September, I had found an apartment for me and three roommates to live in over the next year, Paul had left for 10 weeks in Mexico and, a few days after that, two planes flew into the World Trade Center.

Summer was over, I was 20 and I was no longer a kid.

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