DP: Being a Grown-up and Eating a Bubble

I’m getting a little more familiar with this WordPress thing, so I thought I’d give today’s Daily Prompt a shot. It’s a topic I’ve thought about recently.

When was the first time you really felt like a grown-up (if ever)?

The response below is a sketch (a memoir-style snippet from my past) I wrote maybe two years ago about the exact moment I realized that being a child was not all it was cracked up to be.

Only a Child: Bursting the Bubble

The street outside my house was like a runway, a shortish, asphalt stretch of about 80 yards that reached up and dead-ended at a little copse of trees. My seven-year-old self was outside with my bubble wand and purple bottle, dancing in the solitude of the street, absorbing the sunlight that sent everyone else indoors but that I seemed to photosynthesize into smiles and pumping arms.

A bubble.

A bubble. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I pulled the wand from the bottle, dripping refracted light, a sheet like a prism’s blink stretched across it eye.

Sometimes I would purse my lips and blow the bubbles myself, but more often I would let the wind do it for me, arm outstretched, whirling and watching bubbles stream from the wand, bursting into existence in sparks and glints of color as the wind gave them life.

I stood and watched, the blood rushing in my ears and the world swirling around me. Magical! Floating spheres of light and reflections. The elixir of life, holding precious a tiny breath of air.

I had the sudden urge to taste it. I ran down the street craning my neck, stretching my tongue to reach it, but the wind tasted it before I did, blowing it out of my reach and eating it up.

So I tried again. And again. I ran up the street, down the sidewalk, across neighbors’ yards, into bushes, everywhere the bubbles went, trying to catch one with my lips.

And all the time I had the little jar of bubble solution clenched in one cautious hand. It never crossed my mind to taste from the source, from the bottle or the wand; those weren’t magical. There’s nothing ethereally enticing about a sticky, purple plastic bottle or a yellow, dripping wand. The magic was in the air around me, in the bubbles that danced circling in the wind.

The magic was there right up until a bubble danced to my lips and burst on my tongue. In the split second between contact and taste I was shocked at having achieved my quest.

The shock was short-lived, however, as the filmy, acrid feel of the bubble filled my mouth. It didn’t taste like I thought magic ought to. I wiped my tongue on my shirt, spat into the grass, glared at the purple bottle in my fist, ran inside to repeatedly flush my mouth out with water.

I felt foolish, like a child. Only a child would run around for long hours in the burning sun, chasing impossible, disgusting bubbles. Only a child wouldn’t realize that the bubbles in the air were no different than the bubbles-to-be in the bottle. Only a child.

Final Commentary: I think that the first time you feel stupid, the first time you feel foolish, you’ve crossed the line into adulthood. You live very near the line for many years after that of course and are always crossing back and forth, but the first time I crossed that line and became, for an hour, a grown-up? That day of the bubble in Virginia.