We had a slip-n-slide at church on Wednesday night. Given that it’s been pretty stinkin’ hot around here lately (by Pennsylvania standards anyway), this was a welcome little addition to the usual activities on a Wednesday evenings. I had walked to church from our new place in Middletown, and I was sweating bullets.
However, I wasn’t participating. Just watching.
Kids were running then diving down the hill at breakneck speeds, laughing the whole way. Little ones would come back up the hill and cut right back to the front of the line, having no concept whatsoever of taking turns. Moms watched nervously as my friends Ian and Jared lubed up the tarps with dish soap and shampoo. Ian walked past me standing on the hillside and said to me, “Dude, I thought you were getting in on this!” I said, “Nah, I’m content to watch.” Ian shrugged, then got in line to make another run down the hill.
Why wasn’t I getting in on the fun? I don’t know. I felt old. I’ve been putting in quite a bit of overtime at work. When I’m not at work, I’m usually trying to get work done around the new apartment or trying to figure out what I’ll do with life once I get all this debt paid off (and I still don’t know). We’re on track to have our debt paid off in roughly 12 months, but that’s a long, long 12 months to put in overtime at work and to somehow squeeze enjoyable things in between there. It’s enough to suck the joy out of life and leave a void so wide that nothing is big enough to fill it. I had managed to go from being an optimistic 24-year-old with aspirations to either academia or some sort of writing and teaching career (or both!) to a depressed 25-year-old who hopes that putting in just one more 12-hour shift will put him one step closer to paying off those student loans, even though financial security means nothing without knowing what to do with it.
This was the heavy weight that I had on my shoulders as I watched carefree kids slide down a hill, getting brush burns and grass all over their bellies. The weight of the adult life was crushing down on me, even in a time around friends, hot weather, and a slip-n-slide.
No one said a word to me. There was no epiphany, no realization of what I had become. I simply took my shirt off and got in line. Ian looked at me and grinned. I said, “Why not? I’m tired of acting 25 years old.” He said, “That’s what I was thinking.” When my turn came up, I got Jared to hose me down, took a running start, and slid faster and further than anyone else. ]
When you take the weight of your situation off your shoulders, it makes for a much, much better slip-n-slide experience. It sat there until I decided to call it a night, but when I took it back up and walked home, it weighed a lot less than when I came in, and I walked home with a huge grin on my face.