Teens Getting Married

Depressing how people grow up. Time…where is it going?

I am Leah (i.e., Spit on a Stranger) was the first web diarist I followed. She was 14 years old and was funny and creative. As luck would have it, we lived in the same state, and at the moment she happens to be working in Austin a mile away from where I used to live. I am really tempted to pop by one day to say hello whenever I visit Austin, but no, that would be too wierd.

I was new to the net in 2000 when I found her diary on diaryland. I was keeping a diary there too, albeit pseudonymously (more personal than this weblog). One thing about Leah was that she figured all the html/javascript and website tracker stuff before I did. That’s right. I learned a bundle from a 14 year old. It was both humbling and inspiring. It reminded me of how exciting and creative a time high school can be. Leah, sometime, I’m going to have to teach high school to see firsthand the creative opportunities.

Now, alas, Leah was 14 years old in 14. Now she is 18 or 19 and engaged to get married. Her boyfriend sings with a band, so they’re moving to Nashville next summer (hmmm, I wonder if there’s a connection). We’ve exchanged emails a handful of times.

Far be it from me to complain about the inexorable passing of time. But sometimes I just become shocked. The neighbor’s daughters are now college age students; the little cute girl on 7th heaven is having “Should I sleep with him?” episodes already (wasn’t she a precocious 6 year old just a few years ago?). Macaulay Culkin is already married and divorced. The Olson twins are not only legal but have made more money in 6 months than I will in my lifetime. People my age (I’m 39) are becoming grandparents, senators, prime ministers, billionaires.

Call it middle age or pre-middle age jitters. Actually in the high tech world, your teens or your twenties was when you do the most amazing stuff. It’s silly to pretend to compete or even to keep up. Fortunately, the literary world (and to some extent the film world) is a latecomer’s game. For writers, the magic age is 42 or 43; that is the age of Chekhov and Kafka when they died. Neither author, to be fair, wrote a great amount. But if you haven’t hit your stride by then, maybe you never will.

The funny thing is that at my age (39) the hindrance is not really mental abilities, but training and freedom from commitments. Many people my age have multiple children and parents to support. They are getting positions of greater responsibility and longer hours. Unless people are independently wealthy, people just don’t have the time or mental resources to undertake new projects. Hey, I hear that thing called Ruby on Rails is great. Maybe I should try it… And what’s this I hear about the new generation of Chinese writers or Japanese anime? Or what about the bicycle fund raiser for charity or this church event for the homeless? Or how about those Ukrainian teen bands? Or this great Internet TV show? I just simply have to keep up or else. And yet, lots of people are contenting themselves with running a family, and keeping a dayjob which really isn’t too bad if you think about it. So many people are embarking on home improvement projects or taking a cruise or just having family get-togethers. At some point making time on the weekends for projects is just a masochistic endeavor, unrewarding, aggravating, very tiring.

In one sense, I am lucky to be single. You can remain dedicated to the arts and your projects. You are accountable to no one. Yes, it is lonely, a little scary when no one’s around to help you out. Sometimes I can’t help wondering, “What if?” Life would be so much less tiring, so much more enjoyable. But I am overgeneralizing on the basis of my own life, but often the commitment to artistic/creative endeavors is all-consuming. It becomes nearly impossible to conceive of things like marriage, job security, a home. Not because these things aren’t important. They are, but these concerns are overshadowed by the ever-increasing burden of what you feel you ought to be doing and are not.