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You are twenty-two and you’ve scraped your knee carrying the recycling bin back down the stairs to its place on the stoop outside your back door. You’ve scraped your knee and even though the twenty-two to your name is still fresh and sparkling from its addition last week, two weeks ago maybe, you feel about five years old again. You muse in the shower, shaving around the scrape, that there must have been a moment when it became socially unacceptable to get these sorts of things on your knee but you fall short of finding the moment. You cannot fix the hour or the spot or the words which laid the foundation of inappropriate bruised knees, it was too long ago; you were in the middle of grown-up before you knew that you had begun.
You are twenty-two and The Lion King is still one of your favourite movies; you still laugh uproariously at Pumbaa and Timon’s jokes and cry when Mufasa dies because the tears in Simba’s eyes when he realises his father is dead and it’s all his fault are too real. You can’t help putting yourself, a lion in name a lion in nature, in his place and you know when your father dies when you’re unable to stave off the tripping tick-tock of time, you will cry just as much as Simba and maybe be hurt a little more. After all, Simba is an animated fictional creature outside of time and space and you are temporal, your father more so and you hate to remember that. For all of his roaring and bravery and often overwhelming presence in your life, he wears glasses and caught pneumonia and now has to use an inhaler to breathe on particularly cold days and you worry whether he has ever slept enough in his too busy life.
You are twenty-two and your Marketing tutor is exceptionally pretty. She is tiny – that’s the first thing you noticed, tiny tiny tiny – with a waist that is suited for modelling and even in four-inch heels she doesn’t have a hope of getting the peanut butter off the top shelf (which she might not eat anyway, mind, with a waist like that) and surely she doesn’t dream of catching up to your clumsy heights. Her clothes are always fashion-forward and you despise, you loathe, you detest them, her pants that are an awkward cut, her crop tops that remind you of your muffin top, her skirts that are see-through, her tops of various unappealing textures and even more than you hate her wardrobe you hate how inadequate and dumpy she makes you feel.
You are twenty-two and have decided to grow up and let go of your unreasonable hatred of your tutor. This has not gone according to plan, but you are an adult now (the scrape is fading) and have determined to keep working at it until something gives. Preferably your inadequacy.
You are twenty-two and still haven’t figured out your life and that doesn’t seem nearly as terrible as it did when you were fifteen and horrified that it was slipping through your fingers like dry sand, or the tears that leak out when your father yells at you, or the happiness given through affirmation by others. It will work out, it has to, because this is your life: this is not a movie or a stage play, this is not the rehearsal or someone’s sob story, this is your life and you work hard. You will be fine.
You are twenty-two and have found life is going immeasurably faster than you expected it was at eight when you started writing because your teacher forced the class into twenty silent-as-the-grave minutes of creative writing and it went on long enough for you find poetry in writing about how the light would come in the windows. Now life is flashing by at an alarming pace and the year’s gone by without stopping impossibly fast like pigs flying and slowing down the tick-tock of the clock and zombies and actually getting an A in that damn class.
You are twenty-two and have decided it’s alright not to pay attention in a lecture because time is short. You are twenty-two and have also decided if you’re not going to go to your lectures then you need to go to the library to study because time is short and it’s getting harder to get a career. You are twenty-two and have decided that life’s not all that bad when you really think about it: the challenge is to really think about it and not let surface issues – “it’s raining”, “I’m hungry”, “the world is in crisis”, “National was voted in again” – take over. You are twenty-two and have decided you like your scraped knee because it means you are still having adventures.