To Be Young, but Glad I’m Not

Prom is a magical time… the first 4 times…

I have the most dreaded job in teaching: Prom Coordinator. Every year, with the help of my co-coordinator, I prepare a magical evening for high school students to remember forever.

Sometimes, I’m jealous. In most cases, a high schooler worries for very little beyond grades. They have hope that is unmatched at any point in life. Remember what that was like? You knew that life would work out. You would travel the world, get your own place with an awesome job, and make bank (which is young whipper snapper talk for making a high salary). Hope springs eternal… for the young. And I see it dance and grind across the floor every year.

Life works, of course. I have my own place. My wife and I worked like dogs for years to afford the house we have now and work like slightly smarter dogs to keep it. We both have jobs. And are damn glad that we do after realizing getting one means fighting people with the same qualifications and the epiphany that EVERYONE is replaceable, even the one-of-a-kind people. I’ve travelled the states because China is a lot farther away than Google made it seem. We have a salary and realize the comfort of secure paycheck amounts and the frustration of no overtime. And to “make bank” means long hours and little appreciation.

But all of this comes with one thing being young doesn’t: freedom. I see them dancing with each other (some would say on each other, but no prom babies on my dance floor!) and this is the only night they’re free to act like adults — dress up, eat at a nice place, dance however they want, and… well, you know what else.

They get one night; I get every night. If I’m responsible, I have absolute freedom. When I work hard and pay my other bills, I can get another tattoo — and a good one, not a friend-in-the-kitchen tattoo. If I use an appropriate medium and place, I can say whatever I fucking want. If I apply my education, I can go anywhere and be happy.

Sometimes I wish I was younger to have that hope of the future and fewer responsibilities. But I wouldn’t trade the freedom that those responsibilities give me. Fuck that shit.