To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Part 5: Post 11: No longer a Teenager

Today is my birthday. I am twenty years old.

Technically, I suppose, eighteen is the bigger deal, but I really didn’t think of it that way. Nothing much changed for me, in a practical way. I could vote, but I didn’t. I had to register for Selective Service, but there’s no draft. If I got arrested I’d be arrested as an adult, but I didn’t do anything to get arrested, so I wasn’t worried about it. I started my senior year of high school and life went on as before.

But now I’m not a teenager anymore. It’s silly, just a meaningless trick of language, but I’ve been thinking of myself as a teenager for…obviously seven years, which doesn’t sound like a long time, but it feels like most of my life.

I went home last weekend to celebrate with my parents and some of my friends there. We didn’t have a big party, because we couldn’t get everybody together at the same time, but I went out to eat with my mother and both siblings one night, and my Dad and my brother and his wife the next night. And I hung out with some of my old high school friends during the day. It was awkward—it seems like every time I go home I have less in common with my old friends, even the Wiccan ones, which is just bizarre. But we had a good time anyway, and it was really good seeing my family. My brother is a lot older than me and I hadn’t gotten to see him in a long time.

And I got presents. I usually don’t make a big deal about presents—I like opening them up, the surprise of the thing, and seeing what my family and friends got me, but I’m not really into “loot” for its own sake. Except this year I was more excited about it because I’m basically broke, and there are things I can’t get for myself. I mean, I sold my car last February, but that money goes to pay for my room and board fees here. I didn’t take any out for my own use. I have some money saved up from my job with the landscaping company when I was in high school, and I don’t need very much—I spend less than twenty dollars a week, on average, but—my income is zero and I really don’t want to ask for money from my parents. So I asked for books instead.

Yellow Fly Agaric
I now have my own collection of field guides. Most of them are Peterson’s Guides, because I like the line drawings. They really look like what they’re supposed to look like. So I have Shrubs and Trees, Trees (yes, there is overlap, but they each have species the other doesn’t, so I asked for both), Edible Wild Plants (maybe I won’t be so dependent on Rick for Paleolithic Dinner), Ferns and Fern Allies, and Grasses. I asked for Newcomb’s Guide to Wildflowers, because it’s easier to use than Peterson’s once you get the hang of it. I also got a guide to bird’s nests and a really nice one for mushrooms, not that Charlie has sent me after mushrooms yet, but I figure it’s just a matter of time. I have my own hand lens now, which seems to be more or less required for identifying anything that can’t run away. Seriously, I’m bizarrely proud of my little hand-lens. It has two lenses that each fold into a little metal handle half the size of my thumb and hangs on a leather lanyard around my neck. I got a book on stargazing and one on insects, too, even though I didn’t ask for them, and they are both quite nice. And I didn’t ask for them, either, but my Dad got me a Bible and a book by John Wesley. I think he’s worried that I’m going to lose my faith among the pagans or something, and I suppose that’s kind of intrusive, but I don’t really care. I haven’t had my own Bible since the children’s study Bible I got for Sunday school when I was a kid. So all in all, I feel very grown up, equipped as I am with the texts of science and religion.

The very thought, “I feel so grown up” is about as childish as you can get, of course, but I don’t much care. I’m having fun.

I didn’t make a big deal of my birthday on campus—some people do, even having someone announce their birthday after breakfast, so everyone can clap and sing Happy Birthday, but I didn’t really feel like it. Basically, I don’t like a lot of people paying attention to me, not all at once like that. But I did mention it to Ollie a while back, and so he, Willa, Rick, Joanna, Nora, Kayla, and Arthur all took me out to dinner in town. I bought a piece of chocolate cake for dessert and blew out three candles and let everybody take a bite. I got most of the icing. It was nice.

At dinner, Rick asked me if I’d invited Charlie, since he wasn’t there. Of course, I hadn’t invited anybody, Ollie invited everybody, and he isn’t friends with Charlie so he didn’t think of it, but honestly I’m not sure I would have thought of it, either. Am I friends with Charlie? I don’t know. He’s harder to get to know than a tree or a forest.

Speaking of Charlie, I’m wondering if he’s just had a birthday too, or something. He’s got a new book. I saw him sitting on the Mansion porch the other day, smiling in the sunshine, one sandal on and the other nowhere in sight, happily reading the beginning of this new book. He saw me looking at the book, curiously, so he held it up so I could read the title.

It was a translation of Winnie the Pooh in Latin.

[Next Post: Monday, September 9th: Field Trips]

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