Why I shouldn’t be allowed to grow up
My parents keep insisting I’m inattentive. Or something.
On one of my final nights at home in Connecticut before beginning the hapless adventure that was my summer in Charlottesville, I was driving my mom’s massive spaceship of a vehicle into the garage. Months of maintaining a spotless driving record — that I was a first year with no car at my disposal to crash is clearly irrelevant here — had armed me with the confidence to make the tight squeeze past my brother’s car and into the building.
I could just as easily have parked beyond the second car in the driveway, or else gotten my brother to move the obstacle elsewhere. But I wasn’t ready to back down — no, I’d trained for this moment. And at this point it had been, like, months since the backing-my-car-into-a-tree-and-taking-out-my-bumper incident. Plus, everyone had almost forgotten about that one time I managed to total my brother’s old car…in my driveway.
I was ready to go.
Everything was going swimmingly until the car made a foreign sound which made me slam the brakes.
Had I finally done it? Had I actually realized my lifelong fear of carelessly running over and ending the precious life of my cat? I was alarmed. Naturally, I threw the spaceship in reverse.
Crash. The paranoia — brought on by having potentially just earned the title “kitten murderer” and my proximity to the wall of the garage — resulted in the complete demolition of my mom’s right mirror.
When I broke the news to my mom, she attributed the incident to my carelessness. Had I been paying better attention, she noted, we might still have a fully assembled vehicle sitting halfway inside the garage.
Careless — who, me? I was indignant. Didn’t she know how meticulously I had organized my Netflix queue earlier that day? Did it mean nothing to her that I’ve mastered enrolling in the bare minimum number of Friday classes down to a calculated science? I basically epitomize responsibility and precision, Mother.
Yet my time in Charlottesville provided me with ample evidence to the contrary. One may be able to call my attentiveness into question when considering the fact that I endured a nasty collision with the fire hydrant at the start of the Corner during one of my afternoon runs.
I have to say, though: that fire hydrant had it out for me. It stood there mocking me as I proceeded to dramatically limp into Cohn’s with blood streaming down into my socks and a bump on my knee the size of a Bodo’s bagel.
The greasy-bearded checkout guy at Cohn’s was devastatingly unsympathetic. He motioned wordlessly to the paper napkins with a look of disinterest, as if I pull stunts like this frequently. I mean, I do — but he couldn’t know that, right?
That’s one example of my ostensible carelessness. Admittedly, it’s only a segment in the collage of summer blunders.
Perhaps I wasn’t keenly attentive in reading the label on my roommate’s dish soap before pouring it generously into the dishwashing machine. And maybe I shouldn’t have left the machine unattended while it spewed suds for about an hour, proceeding to inundate the kitchen with bubbles (of the cruelty-free variety, of course — thanks Dawn!). Of course, I could at least count on my roommates to lend a hand. No mess was left un-Snapchatted that day.
And yet, no mishap hitherto discussed could compare to the moment of sheer terror when I realized — shortly after taking the garbage out to the dumpster behind my building — I was missing my passport. I didn’t think much of it until I later understood — in a sudden cinematic epiphany — how the two pieces fit together. Important government-issued document plus disposing of garbage invariably equals bad news.
In this case, bad news came in the form of dumpster diving. I won’t go into details, but I like to believe I emerged from that experience a stronger person.
Thus, it may be safe to assume my transition into adulthood will not prove to be as seamless as it could be. But I would argue that as college students, we’re at a prime time for making mistakes — ones which are ultimately as constructive as they are laughable. I’m faltering rather royally — arguably more than I’m succeeding — but I’m getting to know myself better every day.
It’s also not altogether disappointing to have to rule careers like personal driver and professional dishwasher out of the equation. But, seriously. You should see my Netflix queue. Impeccable.
Victoria’s column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.