I went swimming today with my swim goggles and my blue bathing suit that I stole from my dad the night before I left. Sorry, Dad. Anyway, at one point I just slipped under the water and tried to hold myself in place against the current. Then I noticed a small tropical fish that was electric blue, shimmery silver, and neon yellow. It was probably five or six inches long, 2 inches tall (deep?) and really skinny. Anyway, it swam right up to me and looked me in the eye. I imagine it was thinking, "My, you don't look Mauritian. Are you European?." It was obviously not thinking, "You are huge and potentially a threat to my well-being." This I know because it didn't try to swim away from me, even when I reached my hand out to it. It is possible that it was blinded by the reflection of the sun off of my still-comparatively-pasty skin. Surreal experience. I then stepped on another sea urchin. They're a serious menace. I'm alerting the American Embassy.
On a series of unrelated notes, my dad keeps calling me an adult. I really wish he would stop doing that. Also, the more that I ponder life and how it goes, the more (and less) I understand Peter Pan. Or that Toys-R-Us giraffe.
Anecdote: It was a Friday night and I was sitting on the beach with a group of my friends here in Flic en Flac. We had seen the sunset (woah!), and I was beginning to think it might be time for a short nap before the soirees of the nighttime. After all, the coconuts are ripening and delicious libations might ensue. My beautiful German friend Bettina told me that she was going home. I asked why. Confused by my confusion, she said (best read with a moderate German accent), "Well, I must go into work tomorrow morning at 8 o'clock because we have a new employee that is not capable of running the business herself yet and the only other employee qualified to supervise her has a family commitment." My response to her was almost automatic. "Oh," I said, "You real people with your real people things to do." Bettina's job title is Marketing Executive, unless I'm mistaken. I don't have a real job- much less one with a fancy and rather intimidating title.
At the time I guess I didn't think much of it, but in retrospect, I guess I've been dwelling on just what exactly constitutes 'real peopledom.' Surely I am in no way qualified for the land of grown ups, and yet I find myself surrounded by them and increasingly consumed with the drudgery (and non-drudgery) (mostly the drudgery) of 'grown-uppery.'
So what exactly is grown-uppery? Having put much thought into the matter recently when I should've been putting much thought into economics or literature, I feel that I have reached a working definition for myself. From what I can gather, grown-uppery is a two-tiered achieved status. The bottom tier and the most obvious is comprised primarily of the trappings associated with such an advanced status. These trappings include things like: cooking, cleaning, washing, and bill-paying for oneself; jobs and consequently job titles and supposedly salaries; company cars; bluetooth headsets; "benefits;" deeply committed spousal, quasi-spousal, or anti-spousal relationships; and last but perhaps most illustrative, kitchens complete with stocked spice racks. Not kidding about that one. It's important.
The other tier gets tricky. My dad used to tell me that it was his job to ensure that one day I would be 'a man.' In fact, he still tells me this. Sure he might want me to know how to change oil in cars and to be able to tile and grout (I have a little bit of experience with that one, don't I, Dad?), but what he really means is different. He wants me to know and to do 'the right thing.' I'm working on it, Dad, I promise. This is very closely related to what I consider the more complicated tier of grown-uppery. 'Real people' have responsibilities; they have deep emotional commitments; they have life-stories; they have life directions (or none, but either way, the choice is theirs); and they have cultivated tastes. Maybe those tastes lead to spice racks. I guess us adolescents can't appreciate basil or coriander. Coincidentally enough, I have a 'real person' friend here whose job title is "Export Manager" for a culinary essential oils spices and condiments company. Yeah, I don't really know what that means, either, but it's very grown-upperish, isn't it? You should see her spice rack. Real people also interact with other real people in a way that adolescents and children (quasi-people?) never could. The mutual status seems to make real people equal to each other.
We quasi-people do have some things going for us. We don't have real jobs and we don't necessarily need serious life directions. We get to move to African islands for a year and live on the beach. We get to order take out. We get Summer jobs at tea rooms and parents (and big brothers and sisters) on the other end of telephone lines to tell us what we should do when we can't figure it out ourselves. Some of us watched our older siblings turn into real people, and we're just sitting back and waiting for the verdict before we take the leap ourselves. I always did like the limbo. All in all, I like quasi-personhood. If I could keep the accouterments of the quasi people while gaining all that emotional maturity mumbo jumbo, I'd go for it.
As you can probably tell, I have a rather mystified vision of adulthood- I obviously don't even like calling it adulthood as that doesn't seem enigmatic enough. In any event, on an increasing number of days per week, my life looks a lot like grown-uppery. I have a few of the basics covered (bills, laundry, cooking, etc), and the other things are developing daily. I can't comment on my own emotional maturity, but I can say that I'm doing my best to work that out.
I had a very heated discussion with my landlord today over some things he was supposed to fix but hasn't. It was the first time in my life when I have actually stood up to a 'real person.' You could (if you're Southern) say that I gave him a 'talking to.' It was an awkward feeling, first because I don't like getting angry, but secondly because for the first time, I felt entitled to interact with a 'real person' on an equal plane. I felt guilty afterwards. Don't get me wrong, I don't think arguing with landlords is necessarily a marque of grown-uppery, but standing up to real people might be. I don't live in real peopledom, but I might just be inching (dangerously) closer. I don't have a spice rack, though. That I'll have to earn.
Also, Happy Birthday Mom and Annie. You guys are wunderbar.
Creole words of the day: Kuyon: idiot. Ti garson: little boy. [Edit: Cotomili: Coriander]