A Catholic perspective on the world and all the good things therein, especially books and food. Literature cum chocolate is the order of the day at The Crockery.

Location: A Collegetown, Undisclosed Location, United States

No longer a graduate student, Teresa is now a professional know-it-all.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

They Stopped Carding Me. . .

Disclaimer: This message is pointless and depressing. It involves neither a recommendation for something to read or directions for something to eat, and it offers no insightful cultural critique. Truly, it does not meet the Crockery standards. However, this will serve to fill up time until I can finish one of the five or six non-academic books I've been reading sporadically, at which point I may have something interesting to say. There may even be another post about demons!

Recently, I was involved in a conversation with an acquaintance who insisted that 27 was a turning point in a person's life. Once you hit 27, you were on the way down. After 27, you became old. At the time, I felt this was absurd. In retrospect, I think that that youngster of 25 was on to something. Though I don't think that 27 is a concrete marker of age, nor a solid borderline between "young adult" and just plain "adult", I think the years from 27-30 are a transition time.

Apparently, liqour laws agree that there is something unique about 27. Cashiers are required to card anyone under 27, which means that when they look at a person with a bottle of wine, they are supposed to be asking themselves not "Is she over 21?" but rather "Is she 27 or older?" So, for years, I was routinely carded when I tried to buy my wine. I fondly told myself that it was because I look so young.

In the last year or so, however, the cashiers have stopped carding me. Apparently, I finally look my age. I have to admit it when I look in a mirror: there are lines there that didn't use to be there. There's a "set" look to my face that it didn't have in the past. I look. . . not old. . . but not young. I look more like a grown-up, I guess. If only I could convince myself that this was a good thing!

Alas, I'm the nostalgic type. I always think that "the way things used to be" is better. I regret most changes. Though you couldn't pay me enough to get me back into a high school building, there's part of me that secretly longs for a second chance to be an undergraduate. This time, I'd know enough to know which subjects I ought to learn. This time around, I'd know which the best moments were so that I could treasure them. (I doubt, for instance, that I will ever again link arms with a group of friends and sing "We're off to see the Wizard!" as I skip down the sidewalk. There are some things that only an undergraduate can pull off.) This time around, I'd take advantage of more of the activities offered by the Catholic student center, and I wouldn't shy away from the invitations of my InterVarsity friends. I'd be an example of ecumenical outreach.

It all sounds good except for the platitudinous catch-22: it takes maturity to recognize a good opportunity, but maturity can only be gained through missed opportunities. And then there's the other platitude that nostalgia would not be so (bitter) sweet if we actually could go back. We always desire most the things which are most difficult to achieve. (I remember that from my honors intro to psych class! Thanks, Professor K.!) If I could go back to my "care-free college days" with my graduate student sensibilities, I'd hate the experience, precisely because of those sensibilities.

So there we are. Or rather, here I am. 27. Cynical (at the moment) but nostalgic in the most sentimental way possible. And no longer being carded when I buy wine. Look: a new source of nostalgia! Now I can look back in longing on the days when people simply didn't believe that I could possibly be 21. Is that a gain, or a loss?


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