With my current state of unemployment and my longest stretch at home in two years I’ve had ample to time to consider what the rest of my 20s will feel like.
It will be like I’m driving down the highway in my blue 2003 Dodge Durango.
The radio will be on, playing the rock station I’ve listened to for years. But I’m not really listening. I’ll be enjoying the company of my closest friends from high school.
The mile markers pass. The jokes and insults fly. We’ve shared them a hundred times before but no one cares.
Then the mile markers start to get bigger and off ramps more frequent.
You stop every once in a while to stretch your legs, get some food, go to college.
Every time you come back to the car, the conversation has changed. Not a lot, but enough.
You miss a reference, an in-joke goes over your head and the radio station is being overtaken by static.
Then the stops become a little longer. Pretty soon, you’ve lost track of time and everything else and it’s harder to get everyone back into the car.
Then comes the first unavoidable mile marker. The one that sends a passenger to their first job. Suddenly, there’s a bit more room in the car and the song on the radio is cutting in and out. But you can still hear the chorus.
Then comes the exit sign marked “significant others.” Some you love, some you don’t. Regardless, they’re more important than you no matter how hard that is to accept.
When you least expect it, the people you still considered kids start having their own. Now everyone is in their own car, with their own families.
You return to where you started when you can, the radio signal returns to full strength. You regroup, you visit those friends and you family or you figure what highway you’re going to leave on when the time comes.
But it’s not just the people changing. Nothing seemed to changed drastically when you were around every day. Now with every return trip, the town has more surprises, seemingly on every street corner.
Once empty fields are now subdivisions, a bank, maybe two.
In just 5 years the high school that was once the center of your world is unrecognizable.
That seedy motel is now a pharmacy. That pizza place changed names.
The edge of town is a little farther out now thanks to a Dollar General, a medical center and two more (or is it three?) schools.
But whether it’s the town or the people you love, one thing is clear:
It takes awhile for all the changes to come into focus and a littler longer to make sense.