living in the liminal

I washed dishes tonight.

This is rare, for me. As a dorm-dwelling, caf-eating college student, the dishes I wash in my small dorm room sink are mostly tea mugs, and then infrequently.

At home, I unload the dishwasher only when prompted, and load it only when forced. On occasion, I remember to clean the frying pan I used for eggs or the bowl I mixed cookie dough in.

But this weekend, my parents are gone, leaving my younger brother and I to fend for ourselves (resulting, obviously, in cereal and ice cream for dinner). So I washed dishes. Rinsed plates, filled the dishwasher with cups and bowls and spoons. Went grocery shopping, put the yogurt in the fridge and the crackers in the cupboard. Fed the dog, took her outside and then locked the doors. Turned off the lights.

Every one of these acts made me feel so old, and yet so young.

I’m twenty. I’m no longer a teenager and can’t get away with teenaged youth, folly, stupidity. But I am no means ready to be an adult. Quite simply, I don’t know how to be an adult. I don’t even know how to use our dishwasher.

Being home for the summer feels so in-between. Spending my nights in the room where I slept all through elementary and middle and high school, a place that I should know and own and feel comfortable in, but I feel almost as if I don’t belong anymore. A college dorm room that has housed hundreds of students before me and will house hundreds of students after me feels like the place where I belong right now.

My adult-but-not-yet-an-adult existence barely makes sense to me. I feel like I’m expected to start doing adult-y, responsible things (finding an internship, studying abroad, thinking about a job, washing dishes) and yet I can barely tackle my four-item long to-do list (sample: mail paycheck). I’m not ready for the future that’s rushing at me headlong, but I can’t stand the past, either.

I’m not really sure what to do about it.


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