There was a time when life was a simple matter. You ate. You played. You hid in corners when you did something wrong, and only came out when forgiveness was guaranteed. You prayed that the Bad Things didn’t find you.
Until, little by little, they did.
Because, let’s face it, the Bad Things you knew as a child are nothing compared to those you know in adulthood. Being abducted by the aliens from Independence Day is impossible, but being murdered sixty miles away from home and by complete strangers is possible. In fact, it’s a potential.
Especially if you’re a woman. Especially if you’re weak looking, or handicapped, unaccompanied, or wearing the heirloom your grandmother gave you on your fifteenth birthday.
Standing out will get you killed.
Standing out in certain parts of Latin America will get you kidnapped, ransomed, and killed. Not necessarily in that order, either.
Whenever we went to Mexico, my grandmother would always tell my siblings and I to speak as little as possible when in public. “Don’t use any English,” she would say, “or else they’ll know immediately that you’re an American.”
We never asked who the ‘they’ she mentioned were, because we knew. They were the Bad Things, the bad men who could end all life in a blink of an eye, and laugh while doing so.
Until I left my country, I’d never known being an American was something to be afraid of. I’d never known that existing was something to be afraid of.
As a kid, you either did, or didn’t do, what you were told. It was as simple as that. An impulse that took very little thought, because, what’s the point anyway? There was too much to do and see, and too little time to absorb it all before being sent to bed.
And that’s the thing, you don’t realize that in your hurry to grow up, you’re only rushing yourself towards a fate much darker than you could imagine. Hello child, meet Cruel New World.
Now take your ticket and sit down at the DMV.
Okay, maybe it’s not that bad. But still, it’s pretty bad.
Especially when you face college debt, an unstable labor force, and family issues you shouldn’t have to deal with till you’re forty-something.
In adulthood, the Bad Things become losing you parents, your siblings, your job, losing it all to some twisted turn of fate. Bad Things become your body turning on you, days of inner solitude becoming months, and bills upon bills piling on your head till your shoulders feel like breaking down.
The Bad Things become walking out of a hospital elevator, and into a hallway echoing with pained screams and knowing instantly that they came from the last room to the right, where you father was supposed to be resting from a recent (raw even) amputation.
Yes, the Bad Things become Adulthood itself.
Hey Aliens, leave Will Smith alone and take me instead. Sailor Moon’s my home girl so I’m pretty sure she’ll save my ass if you try to kill me.
And if she doesn’t, well, at least I get to see the stars before I go.