Op-Ed

Adulthood 101: Choose a path and say “I do”

Michael Free Jr., is one of six reader columnists for The News Tribune.
Michael Free Jr., is one of six reader columnists for The News Tribune. dmontesino@thenewstribune.com

Not long ago I was the best man at my best friend’s wedding, and I never once wore a suit.

The couple planned a themed wedding: “Medieval Renaissance Faire.” It’s an interest both are passionate about, and it’s why I walked down the aisle wearing a black, puffy blouse with matching pants. I looked like a knockoff of famed magician David Blaine.

But the only magic happening that day came from my two good friends, Dustin and Anna, who, with a couple of “I do”’s, made their single selves disappear.

The whole experience was a blast. To outsiders, the wedding party might have looked a bit ridiculous, but the usual stress and woes of adulthood disappeared, and for one day we all felt like kids playing dress-up again.

The maid of honor and I watched the newly married couple sign all the required legal forms and certificates. As signatures and initials filled the blank lines, I couldn’t help but comment that Dustin had loved Anna enough to “bring the government into their relationship.”

Just as quickly as the ceremony had come, it was over, and the newlyweds were off on their honeymoon. The jovial attitude between them continued, but then the honeymoon came to an end, literally and figuratively.

When I saw them next, that air of festivity had been replaced by all the heavy factors that accompany adult life.

No longer were their conversations about what five-star restaurant to visit in Boston, or what color centerpiece to put on the reception tables.

Now they were discussing housing options and what kind of pots and pans to buy.

It was especially surreal to watch Dustin, who’s one year younger than me. How could my best friend from high school be talking about what mortgages he could qualify for? What did he know about housing styles?

Just a couple weeks earlier we had been talking about the release of a new video game. Now he wanted my thoughts on the square footage of a house they had scouted in Enumclaw.

Their mature approach to the next chapter in life forced me to consider my own path. I’d been living on the high of being a college graduate for a couple months, but what was I working toward? I have a writing degree, but where was I going with it?

I didn’t find the answer to these questions until I attended a stock-trading seminar two weeks after the wedding.

I had always heard about the stock market when I was growing up, but never learned what stocks were or what you did with them. Over two days of sessions and discussions, I entered a world that I was always curious about but remained foreign to me.

I realized that the strategies employed in stock trading were exactly the kind of passion-filled work I had been searching for, lighting a fire that would focus my attention and time for the coming years. I scouted out books and searched the media to teach me more.

Suddenly I was feeling as responsible as my friends Dustin and Anna. They had wedded themselves to the idea of spending their lives together, and I was doing something similar.

My path to adulthood came into focus and I felt a hunger I never knew existed. Today, I feel like an Olympic sprinter shot out of the starting gate, my track to victory now visible and tangible.

I, too, am married – not to a person, but to the idea of becoming a stock trader. And the best part is, I can do it without looking like a puffy pirate.

Michael Free, Jr., is a student who grew up in Milton and studied writing at the University of Washington Tacoma. He is one of six reader columnists who write for this page. Email him at michael.freejr8@gmail.com.

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