My writing group prompt this week: Transition. I tend to use prompts just to get me typing. Transition was difficult to write about because it’s hard to pin down. Here’s a very sloppy, raw bit of writing, which I find amusing.
I had heard that transition was painful. For years I think I’d been confusing it with transformation. I thought certain some Kafkaesque alteration would occur that would suddenly rend my life with its menacing insect pincers. This was not in fact how the transition was marked. Were I to put my finger upon it, the transition was first signaled by the writing of a check. A $6,000 check, specifically, that was supposed to have been my wedding fund—a holdover, you see, from the days when we all had dowries. (Some transitions have been subtle, over decades, centuries, and longer. Even dowries were other things once—cattle, sheep, and land—all gradually transitioned into money.) My transitioned dowry became a car, a small white Japanese thing that I was told only a girl would purchase. I named it Hibatchi.
For years each time I paid rent, phone bills, electric bills, I was certain that the government would find me out. Surely at some point a social worker would show up, demanding to know why a child was issuing checks. No one ever came.
Marriage happened, which surely must have been illegal. Unless one counts Kansas, but it’s understood that things work differently there. Also, a wedding doesn’t count when it’s 11 minutes long followed by two days that nobody remembers other than that there were slot machines and showgirls. He was my boyfriend even after marriage, until one day we both decided that calling him my husband-like appendage was both appropriate and hilarious. Our friends’ disgust did nothing to dampen our immaturity.
The hint of the transition was not signaled by my father’s death, as I thought it somehow would be. It did not come when signing papers that declared me legally obligated to talk to my boyfriend before breaking it off. It did not come when nieces and nephews began appearing, and all the friends were suddenly married, in other states, with infants strapped to their backs in the way of Sherpa. The transition was heralded by a subtle doubt, a small fear, that began on a sidewalk curb.
“I’m too old to have alcohol poisoning,” I moaned.
“You’re not that drunk,” he said.
“If have to go to the hospital, I’ll die of embarrassment. Nobody does this unless they’re in college.”
I’d become too old for alcohol poisoning to be tasteful. In the prior year I’d suddenly developed an unabashed appreciation for Elvis Costello and my fashion sense had started to center around just-above-the-knee A-line skirts. In a haze of alcohol, I realized that I really did need those kids to turn their music down, that I couldn’t understand a word of it, and that everything from my childhood could now placed into that slightly yellowed category of living called Nostalgia.
“I’m not going to be arrested for underage marriage?” I asked.
“No, you’re not.”
“I can’t get a student discount?”
I huddled into a cave of denial made of stuffed animals, video games, candy, and romantic comedies from the late ’80s, until my body—traitor that it is—gave out on me.
It was the chin hair sealed my fate. One morning a single black hair poked through my chin and made me Gregor Sampsa. You must understand—my mother, you see, spends twenty minutes every morning battling chin hairs, as did my grandmother. Aged women, esteemed women. And there it was, violent thing, announcing what could no longer be avoided, what the paperwork, jobs, responsibility and life itself had not been able to tell me: I had become an adult.
I pull chin hairs so you don’t have to. Now get off my lawn.
21 Notes/ Hide
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- sotheresthat said: Chin hairs are the wooooorst.
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