I wake up for the first time with my dog, Ernest. I’ve been curating my adulthood lately. I got my first apartment alone (I don’t pay for it), my girlfriend stays over a lot, I’m starting to cook (badly), and now I have another living creature dependent on me. Despite my best efforts to set myself apart from the conservative, suburban culture of my youth in Dallas, Texas, I have looked to the same system of monogamy, possessions, and domesticity that I didn’t intend to bring to Los Angeles with me. This is not an awareness I have in 2007.
I support Ron Paul in the early days of the 2008 Presidential campaign and I’m not too far removed from reading The Fountainhead. Twice. I have a lot of ideas about personal responsibility. I have a lot of opinions about particular social constructs that I believe obscure the ideal of personal responsibility. Three months ago, I graduated from a private university with zero dollars and zero cents in student debt. I am cultivating a pill habit that will be made possible by the absence of heavy financial burdens typical of one’s early and mid-20’s.
What I don’t know in 2007 is how much actual experience has defined me while I built another narrative entirely, a narrative that I am in control of, a narrative that is not reality. I have opinions about people I don’t know. I’m the smartest person in the room as long as I’m the one talking. I’m applying to graduate schools that will all send rejections, some impossibly fast. Does Berkley have its own mail service?
I’m very good at pretending in 2007.
My girlfriend will become my wife, my dog Ernest will stay my dog Ernest (he is beginning to seem immortal), I will go to rehab and get clean and get tattoos and learn some painful truths about my teenage obsession with Ayn Rand and gold-backed currency truthers. I will get a degree and a career and meet a lot of people who provide me with perspective and empathy and optimism. I will stop pretending. I will also see Donald Trump elected President and wonder if that horror is finally enough to alleviate the dense, relentless pressure of boredom that has us constantly seeking out conflict, and I’ll wonder how complicit 2007-me is in the whole goddamn thing.
Things shift, the right way of thinking becomes wrong and gets replaced with another right, and we hope that this time we’re not fucking it up all over again. In 2007, I thought I had it all figured out. 10 years later, I’m too much of an adult to think that way, but that’s how the problem started in the first place.
Walker is a writer and professor living in Los Angeles, CA. He lives with his wife, Celeste and his dog, Ernest, roots for the Dodgers, and never goes to the beach. You can follow his very sporadic tweet-bursts @walkergwrites on Twitter.
Walker also wants you to look into Miry’s List, a non-profit in Los Angeles that creates lists of needs for arriving refugee families to provide a proper start in the United States. While you’re at it, he says to go check out The Malala Fund where some pretty rad people are helping girls around the world get an education.