you’re at a strange age now. you’re not a kid anymore. you scoff at the high school drama you used to play a role in and try not to cringe at the screenshots of text conversations with people you don’t talk to anymore. but your mom still makes your doctor’s appointments and picks up your contact lenses and reads all the important school emails you forward to her without a glance. you fight less with your dad and more with your mom. you like onions now just like everyone always said you would when you were grown up.
you feel older. you wonder how much ‘feeling older’ it’s going to take before you feel grown up.
you have your own place now in the big city and you live alone and lock the doors at night and cook every now and then, but there was that one night you drank too much and threw up on your fire escape. you didn’t want to clean it so you hoped for rain the next day.
when you came home for thanksgiving that year, you had your high school friends over your dad’s house the night before. you sat in the backyard and talked about who was still together by sophomore fall, and the people you had grudges against, and no one talked for a second about who they are now. past midnight you left because you were spending the holiday with your boyfriend’s family, but on your way out you found your dad asleep on the couch. you had found him this way countless times in your childhood. feeling like a little girl in blue pajamas, you shook him awake. he hugged you goodbye and you shut the lights on the way out. you stood in the doorway and told him to lock the door and go upstairs at some point. he mumbled out a promise and you stood there, for a moment, watching him fall back to sleep and the weight of your age finally seemed to lay on your shoulders, even if it would be gone by morning. you locked the door behind you because you knew he wouldn’t, and the next night he admitted that he hadn’t.
it’s harder to see your parents as parents now. they just seem like people. they yell and cry and bring home people you’re never going to see again. they’re hypocritical and unfair and selfish sometimes and so are you. as you wander through this strange age and try to feel more grown up, more adult, more like a real person, you watch them try to do the same. they make it look easy most of the time, until you catch the little moments when they think you’re not looking, like peering through a boarded up window. moments where stresses fold the skin on their faces into wrinkles. moments when you realize their sighs of exasperation aren’t targeted towards your cluelessness, but towards theirs. moments where they seem insecure and unsure and young. and then you realize that adults are still growing up too.
Eve Jensen is a sophomore at New York University, following a creative writing track. She began writing at the age of four in a the backseat of her grandmother’s car in a Target parking lot, and has not yet found a way to stop. She published her first book, the girl who bled ink, in August of 2017 and is currently looking to enter the publishing industry post-graduation. She is always down to talk art history, philosophy, books, or just about anything. She is also a major TikTok addict and will repeatedly clap her hand over her mouth, but don’t worry, she’s seeking help about it.
Ananya is an 18 year old artist and animator. She was born in India and moved to Chicago at 4 years old, and is now an animation student at SCAD. She might be a Youngarts finalist but she is also a fierce competitor on the nap battlefield.