I'm still a brand new human being
In a few weeks I turn 23.
I am, for all intents and purposes, an adult. At the very least, all the signs are pointing in that direction. Driving. Registered to vote. Working full-time, living alone, paying rent, buying groceries, feeding the laundromat, haphazardly vacuuming.
Which is all great. Twelve-year-old me was very excited about this part of my life. Even 20-something me has been looking forward to at least the general idea of being independent and somewhat self-sufficient. (I will continue taking green beans from my mom’s garden as long as she continues to garden, but that barely undermines my self-sufficiency because I COULD technically manage without them.)
However, the more I interact with people living out here on a bit of a limb several hours from home in a city where a only small (but growing) handful of people know who I am, the more I realize I am—for all intents and purposes—still very much a brand new human.
Fresh out of the box.
With sharp corners that poke uncomfortably in places.
And a kind of shiny newness that is nice from a distance but then up close tends to reflect light blindingly into the eyes.
The kind of brand new human who doesn’t know how to do a long list of very basic things (embarrassingly, this includes using an ATM despite having worked at a bank for two years).
Which again, is fine and not totally unexpected. You learn to use an ATM at some point and some of us are just late bloomers. And some of us are VERY late bloomers.
Unfortunately, another thing about being a brand new human being is I’m so brand stinking new that don’t have canned answers for things yet, and it makes casual conversation about largely trivial things fraught with needless complications. In the last few weeks, I’ve struggled to concisely answer basic questions like "what kind of food do you like to eat?" "What do you do for fun?" and "What did you do on Tuesday this week?"
My best attempt at clarity is rambling and tinged with panic: I eat a lot of lentils and I’m not sure if I actually like spicy food or if I order jalapeno-spiked everything out of habit and I sit on the floor of my apartment watching D&D while crocheting (which is different from knitting) but I’m not sure if that’s because it’s fun or if I’m bored and I think I went to a meeting on Tuesday but maybe that was Monday.
It’s a problem. Small, but irksome.
I’m planning a trip for Labor Day weekend to LeMars, IA. Mostly to eat ice cream because it’s apparently the ice cream capital of the world. My boss advised me to add a lunch stop to try some of LeMars other great dining options. And before I had time to prepare, he blindsided me with “what do you like to eat?”
And I blanked. What do I like to eat? And how do I answer that succinctly without getting onto a tangent about curry and that I’m always down to try Asian food as long as it’s not seafood and then explaining I also don’t eat red meat because I’d be a vegetarian if it weren’t for chicken but there’s no special dietary reason.
I spewed something random and appreciate tremendously the tact with which I was informed that Iowa is now know for being a hotspot for curry but why don’t you try tacos?
Which is when I remembered that, DUH. I love Mexican food, too. That’s a whole genre (genre?) of food that exists that I enjoy.
I like to think that if I had any canned answers to hand, I could have rolled out two or three basic food groups (Indian, Asian, Mexican, but please please no steakhouses because all I’m gonna do is order chicken tenders) and spared everyone involved a little consternation.
But my canned answers are not canned. I reach for one and the lid flies off and something unrecognizable crawls out. Definitely not suitable for eating, like when the strawberry jam doesn't seal properly and grows a white coat. At best I’ve got the raw ingredients for answers and no recipe for putting them together in a way that’s informative.
Mostly, though? I’m still a brand new human being. I don’t have many canned answers because I often don’t have answers at all. There’s too much I’ve never tried. Too many things I’ve never experienced (or even realized were a real thing that happens, like turning on the water softener when you move in—oops).
In ways that don’t particularly matter to anyone but me and my radar for my own unexpectedly revealed foibles, I’m blundering out here without a clue how people normally do the basics. A brand new human being making this up as I go along.
Presumably, that’s how everyone does it. Or at least how we all start out.
In the meantime, I’m going to (maybe?) have a banana split for the first time in my life and figure out whether or not to add that to my canned answer of what I like to eat.