“Off your shoes please, we’re quirky and touchy in here.”
When you’ve waited a long time to come of age and it finally happens, you have to protect your space from intruders. Moreso from those who don’t respect your right to own your space. They treat it as a trifle and forget that you’ve waited 18 long years to get here. You don’t want to be insulted and you won’t let yourself be insulted by anyone. So you start setting boundaries, limits. They see it as a ‘big thing’ you’re doing — you setting boundaries around yourself– and they don’t understand you so they mock-laugh you and look at you weird.
Oh what a feeling– if only they knew you love being a mystery! If only they knew that you knew you were weird, perhaps they might stop minding your business… but hold, it would simply drive them to the far-out side of crazy. “She is even a weirdo, not normal crazy like the rest of us.” Outright, outward envy is their arsenal now. It’s like pouring caustic soda powder on one’s injury. You really don’t like active or passive confrontation, conflict makes you uncomfortable after all, so you try to shrink, to adjust to a size they can accomodate. You dim your light so their pupils could dilate.
Cautious step after cautious step you take. Egos need not be deflated, sore egos need no more bruising. Your own breath even stifles you. You might not like conflict but you aren’t a people pleaser either. Because you seek balance in all you do, fairness, justice not equality. Before now, you’ve imagined how it would be like in Room 18. Gay, carefree, giddy, confident, independence… But all that is going away by your own hand, you’re giving out your power to the ‘powers that be’ in Room 18. You’re painfully surrendering your right but not for long because your voice surpressed for so long now breaks out in a mournful revolt. It’s time to rebel.
Why all the fussing and fumbling in Room 18 you wonder? It isn’t your favourite room anyways, you’d rather be in Room 13 which is at the start of the ‘Hallway of adulthood’. But Room 18 is the most glamourised and recognized room in here. And the most fussed about. When you’re a fresher here, you meet some cling-ons, people who’ve long past 18, lurking by the corners, hell-bent on containing you. Time to be on the offensive, you don’t scamper looking for cover. You try to contain them, first by setting the boundaries around yourself, keeping them at bay.
They indulge you.
“Create your boundaries dear boy.” We’re gonna tresspass when you’re done.
You’ve a hint of what they’re thinking, but you go on anyway. Better to let them think you are guileless and stupid like a lamb. Better to take them unawares.
So the boundaries are set, and you’re giddy, bouncing in your own space. From the corner of your eye, you see them smirking maliciously. You pretend not to see. One of them mumbles out your name. Daring, you think. But of course, you are not here, you’re oblivious. You don’t answer. You pretend not to hear.
Who the hell are you to be carefree, who the devil not to be on your toes waiting on your superiors? One of them is thinking as he walks up to you. He raises his foot and while it’s still hanging-
“STOP! Off your shoes please, I’m mysophobic in here.” You preen with self-satisfaction as you note the look of utter bewilderment on his face, what with his foot still in mid-air.
“Your shoes,” you repeat.
Slowly, determinedly, eyes fixed on you, he brings it down, a light touch on your carpet. You spring like a cat, he pulls off his foot like he’s stepped on hot coals. You both purr at each other for a moment before he turns away and turns up his nose at ya.
You hiss and bounce back on your bed. Point stated, point taken, you hope.
Room 18 isn’t so bad after all, you think. It’s a good thing coming of age. Nothing is given freely, you conclude. Everything worthy has got to be earned: including coming of age, your independence, being left alone, passing through Room 18 – the most celebrated room of all.