Going away in an impermanent sense traps everything in amber. It’s frozen as you remember, but slightly off—discoloured, glassy. Maybe your mother moved the sofa in the living room while you were gone. Your brother’s things take up a little more space than they used to. Or school suddenly has a vending machine. You make sure to remark on the vending machine to every teacher you see. They assure you that it didn’t change much, but the novelty of it gives you a jolt every time you notice it in the corner of your eye.
It’s true that the differences are small—small enough that you can recognise what you left behind. But the changes are noticeable still. That’s all right. It gives you something to fix upon, to complain about when you need to. It doesn’t quite have the heft of in my day… like you’re a grandparent, but it’ll do. It’s good to feel like an old-timer, especially when you’re soon going to be closer to the end of college than the end of high school.
When did you get so old?
Not that your early twenties are that old; you haven’t hit a midlife crisis yet. But when you were twelve, you thought sixteen meant mature. (You were so wrong!) When you were sixteen, you thought twenty did. You were a little closer to right that time, but it’s all relative. You’re still searching: for order, for sense, for a purpose. And maybe you’ll still be searching four, twenty, forty years from now. Maybe maturity comes with accepting that.
You definitely aren’t there yet. You’re not sure wisdom looks that good on a twenty-year-old anyway; you’d sound like a hack. So you content yourself with grasping in the dark, and when that grows tiresome, there’s always time to take a step backward. You let yourself slip back onto old paths, look through that amber sheen. The world keeps turning, but you can just stop for a minute.
–Stuti Telidevara MAIS ‘15