Not only are they aware that long nights give way to miserable mornings, but also how working days are no less a metaphor than the most miserable of all linguistic realities. Yet our young adult is fair and free, retaining youthful features from bygone schooldays: the scathing tongue, rebellious spirit and strength of will. He will even manage to maintain the naive belief of having time a-plenty, like all this is just the prelude, that life has yet to become something it's not. True it's grubby and mean... but just wait till things pick up!
Then things don't pick up, there's no up to be picked, what you see is what you get. But our young adult is fresh out of school and woozy enough to see something approach on the horizon. Another world, and a head light as candyfloss, completely adamant.
I was once free in a willow-lined small town by the river Körös, and that's where I returned to once I got a degree. The avenue was broad and when a voice hollered from the wine bar terrace 'hey, hiya' - I knew that was for me, or would make do anyway. I rode a bicycle and let my hair grow long. They put us up in what used to be the old schoolmaster's apartment, it was our pad, "company housing". That unheatable barn must have been a lovely living room in its heyday, and here I made a debut in life with my few scanty pieces of furniture.
Young adult laughs at himself, self-consciously unversed, knowingly out of tune with how it's done, in short: great company. You can share his first-ever attempt at potato soup, and won't have to mention that this is far from being his last. He'll get there. He'll realize many soups will follow, stony broke recipes, mac'n'cheese for the weekends.
Young adult shoots back sarky snipes when asked about the future, but never guesses these scorched pans and missed exams and in my case, a first novel's scattered chapters will all be sticking around for years to come. Or how hard it'll be to push on, without teachers and masters and mentors to guide and encourage you. Young adult doesn't yet grasp how nobody means him well anymore, that at best now people won't mean him harm, that the world is a great level playing field, a plateau where many are busy counting back their days to the release of retirement. All this is somehow beyond young adult understanding. How could he share the same category, the same filing cabinet, plow the same furrow with these prematurely deploying golden parachutists?
By the time he comes to realize we are all marching to the same band, it's lost all importance. By then the brevity of life is what's truly frightening, the steady footfall of decades going by. There's no slowing down, no time for contemplation, no quietus, no satisfaction, no reflection in class reunions, not in beers with old friends. There's always the bitter excitement of "it's nearly over" and "I'll have to be going", always the sound of old Commissar Time laughing us in the face.
I'm not sure if space and time go hand in hand for everyone that spent decades rooted in one place, but I'd recently run back to my own hometown, tucked away in what is known as the Storm Corner of Southeast Hungary, scene of my youth and young adult years. That day passed the same as time's been passing ever since I left there. Time passing not even rapidly, more like furtively. How come those five years of hounding success and trying your hand at everything, doing good or harm, angry or upbeat, remain so decisive and memorable? The next ten years have drained away without leaving behind a single signpost or a doorway to reopen.
The old town itself like some pristine mausoleum of your youth. You move along with more drag, with reading glasses in your bag, yet these motions tell you that your body, laughing at itself perhaps, knows nonetheless how it once used to be all of this.
Of course, there is no youth in the old town any more. The old town is instead a pledge of death, an all but grotesque buzz of you and other people dying, a barely audible scratch like a stylus touching a record, of voices from Andrássy avenue and the once busy square now a pedestrian zone and the terraced bank of the Körös and its old wine bar all telling you to calm down, that everything's fine and all you sweet fools with your bickering and tilling, you're really not that long for this world.