Say when

Say when

There comes a time in every girl’s life when she is expected to make decisions for herself. When that time comes, she is pronounced a grown up. She is then allowed to sit with adults and to do adult stuff; vote, drive, drink, and all things independent. She is trusted enough to be allowed to date and even have a ‘closed-door session’ with a boy. At this point in time, she is believed to know the consequences of every action she takes and she is left to make the right choices (hopefully). In other words, she is given the chance to screw up. If all goes well, she will learn from the screw-ups.

Imagine that power. The seismic shift from being told when it’s time to put on a sweater to being able to choose what to wear, and when and with whom to wear nothing with. From being told what time you should be home to choosing where to call home. From being forbidden from watching rated programs and movies, to walking to a movie store and purchasing an ‘adults only’ movie – not because nobody is looking, but because you are an adult. Imagine that power.

Being the grown up that I am, last week I dared to watch the series “Vampire Diaries” after dark (I sense your disappointment. What did you imagine I was watching?) I have never been one to shy away from watching horror, save for the movie ‘Machete’ which I could not stomach. I watched the first five minutes of it and found my finger pressing ‘eject’ by reflex. That movie is gross. I can however brag of having watched ‘Mirror’, another horror, from start to finish. I also managed to watch a significant part of the movie ‘Inglorious Bastards’ but when people’s heads were shaved by the scalp like one skins potatoes, I drew the line and pressed ‘stop’. See, I make grown up decisions every single day.

The trick for me is to watch any scary stuff during the day. I stay away from horrors at night just to make sure I have a peaceful, nightmare-free sleep. Having watched season one of Vampire Diaries, I thought it was safe to break my rules and watch season two at night. So I convinced myself that it wasn’t much of a horror after all, I could take it. I am not a wuss.

After the pep talk I sat through three episodes of bending my knees till they touched my chin, curling my toes, and peeping from the corner of my ‘semi-covered’ eyes (why do we do that?) to see whether Caroline, the human-turned-vampire and Elena’s BFF, would literally suck the life out of her boyfriend. She changed into a scary creature in front of my eyes. Her ‘vampfangs’ came on, her beautiful face creased and I came face to face with the ‘monster’. I hid my face behind my outstretched palms but I was seeing everything through the spaces between my fingers. I looked on as she eer…it, as it held the boyfriend in an intimate embrace, dug its now-long fangs into the depths of his neck and sucked blood to its system. My eyes were transfixed to the screen as the creature came up for air and went back in with a powerful thrust to get another fill.

I could see vampires when I tossed and turned in bed that night. I saw their fangs, their ugly faces. I saw monsters and other scary creatures and I cried for my mommy. Ok, not cried, cried with tears and all but I transformed into a scared little girl, afraid of the dark. When all attempts to fall asleep bore no fruit, and when every slight noise sounded like a vampire lurking in the dark, I conceded defeat, baptized myself the middle name ‘WUSS’, got up and switched the lights back on, then I tried to read a book. Only then was I able to fall asleep.

So that is what life should be about; pressing play and if you like it, you keep watching. If you love it so much, you rewind. When it’s too much, you stop. Maybe you will come back to face it again someday. This time stronger. This time braver. This time, in broad daylight!

But life is much more complicated than that. We stop ourselves when we should keep on; pressing stop instead of play. We rewind our pains and heartaches by refusing to stop bad habits. When something feels good, we find reasons to end it even when we know we should have soldiered on. We keep doing things that we shouldn’t; not because we don’t know better but because we can.

When someone offers to pour you a cup of tea or coffee, or to serve you a plate of food, most times they will expect you to say when it is enough. In the same way, once pronounced an adult of sound mind, every individual gets to ‘say when’.

There is something to be said about the individuals’ power to say when enough is enough. There is something about knowing that you hold that power to make sound decisions for yourself. You get to say when you have had your fill. When you have had it and want things to take a different trajectory.

Sometimes we want a cup-full, while other time we want half a glass. Sometimes, we want our plates filled to the brim while other times we just need a portion of the serving. Sometimes, all we want is a taste, a bite, a sip. Other times there is no such thing as enough – we want all of it and can’t seem to get enough. Each one of us knows when their cup cannot hold any more, or when it is bottomless and they can’t seem to fill it up.

So even though we sometimes go back to being little children in grown up bodies, even though sometimes we need someone to tell us to go to bed and face the horror tomorrow and even when we tempt fate and play with fire knowing fully well that we could get burned, each tomorrow in an adult world lies in our power to say when.


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