words and photo: Clara Neupert

There’s a tired, definitive question adults ask each other when they want a glimpse into their companion’s past: When did you realize your childhood was complete?  

Answers are often a singular defining moment, tragic or cherished, that swings closed the door of childhood. I’ve understood it to be framed with solemn independence and acceptance. 

And, because I’ve been privileged with a near-perfect childhood, I’ve dreaded the day I might come-of-age. I believed that losing my childhood would include losing the best parts of me.  

In retrospect, I should have seen adulthood coming. All the ingredients were there: I was recently out, persuing my dream career and in San Francisco.  

As I walked down Castro Street and into the Haight, I let the magic of cities heal me with each passing block. It was the first time I’ve ever been alone in a big city. I let myself take up space and felt fully and confidently queer. Blossoming felt beautiful and I inhaled power, exhaled strength.  

No exterior force beckoned my becoming, mind you, adulthood was all my doing, my self-acceptance. Here, once again, I thank my privilege, for some are forced.  

I am not a static being — there are parts of me that will never finish drying, even in the winds of the bay. Internalized homophobia cannot be erased in one two-hour trot. When I reach the top of Randall Square, I knew I had built a bridge connecting one journey to another.  

As I reflect, I recognize that I’ve not lost my inner child, as I previously believed I would. She’s still there, in locket of my heart. But she’s grown: crinkles rest on the corner of her eyes, she’s not afraid to cry and she can yell louder than ever before.  

The future is not something to fear. Nor is change. In fact, encourage it. Push your boundaries and walk alone. 

Rather than wilting, I’m becoming.