I’m not sure if I know what that means.
Day 46: The plane circles and gets ready to land over the dormant neon lights and buildings in Las Vegas that normally house bad habits and bad decisions. I don’t have feelings of contempt for the town that boast the same personality flaws as the people who flock to its casinos or overwhelming feelings of empathy for the people who have lost their life savings playing blackjack.
This time my focus is different as I stare at the sun’s reflection in the side of the Luxor. I’m excited to be here. My cousin Reneé is picking me up from the airport early Thursday morning. I will visit with her and her children just long enough to miss them more and spur a quicker return trip.
Reneé is in on the secret, the secret that started somewhere around day 14. The covert mission’s ground chapter begins as the plane’s wheels bounce off the tarmac and my heart races. T-minus 36 hours.
It all began on day 1, when my best friend Andrea moved back to Las Vegas. This was in November after Thanksgiving, before Christmas and before her 25th birthday. How am I supposed to celebrate such events if she is so far away?
My friend Danielle and I plotted. Visit after Christmas and before New Year’s? Be in Las Vegas for Andrea’s birthday? How to get off work and Andrea off work without her realizing I was in town?
All the makings of a fun mini-vacation with one big speed bump: making decisions like an adult.
At this point in my life, a little less than six months before I turn 25, I have to consider my adult responsibilities before getting on a plane.
Andrea went to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and returned to Reno after graduating in December 2007 only to realize she really wanted to be in Vegas. When she told me she was moving back to Vegas in early November, family and friends would chime in and say, “You can always visit.”
That was my fear. In college, Andrea and I only saw each other a few times and on holidays when she would see her family because life kept us both busy. How would being post-graduate adults change the fact that now we have jobs, obligations and schedules?
Although I know I should care about the practicality of my decision to take the time to see my family and friends, my only thought is that a visit means planning a surprise.
On day 47, Reneé efficiently distracts my mind by taking me shopping and seeing a movie before the big trade off when Danielle gets to drive me to their home and surprise Andrea, who is already cooking dinner and is oblivious to the fact that I’m in Las Vegas.
As the days melt away and propel time closer to my quarter-century birthday, I become resentful of time. I stayed on track, graduated high school and went to college, failed in a poor job market spurred by a tanking economy only to salvage my first real job that allows me to use my degree.
I’m resentful that at this point in time people no longer ask me what I will do after graduation but what I will do with my life and expect a legitimate answer and outline of how and when my lofty goals will be achieved.
I am resentful that I placate people with illegitimate answers to that question when really the answer is to admit that I don’t know.
At about 9:30 p.m. on day 47, Andrea’s face becomes frozen like a beautiful porcelain doll in a moment of confusion and her response to my surprise even contained the very un-Andrea use of an adult word.
As I stand in the kitchen laughing and chatting and listening to Andrea say she knew one day I would just show up, she just didn’t know that I have eluded adulthood away for another day.
Secretly, I envy Andrea’s drive to move and obtain what she wants and be where she wants to be. I don’t know what I want. I don’t know where I want to be.
Day 51: Return to Reno. Searching for the road map of life without success, maybe AAA will have one. Until then, I will let my free spirit nurture my inner wanderer and see where it takes me. I doubt it leads me to a definition of adulthood and I’m okay with that. Until I stumble across one, I’m happy that my answer to the question “What will you do when you grow up?” is still simply “I don’t know.”
Cortney Maddock is a reporter for the Sparks Tribube. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org