We’re thrilled to share a blog post by Court Stevens, author of the newly released novel, The June Boys, here on Page Chaser. Today Court is reflecting on “adulting” and what it looks like in times of adversity – whether facing a pandemic (as we are) or a family crisis, like the characters in her book. We hope you are encouraged by her words! – The Page Chaser Team
In the old world of Friday night Target runs, you’d likely find a soft shirt in the front-facing aisle that reads something like “No More Adulting.”
Now…part of me gets the urge to toss the tee in the basket between your new Magnolia-inspired crockery and adorable Pillowfort sheets. I understand “Adulting” is the catch-word for the things we wish we didn’t have to do. Like…make literally any phone call. The entirety of taxes. Figuring out how to Zoom or navigate Google Classroom for the first time. Etc. I hate that stuff.
Part of me is also … sad.
Thirteen-year-old me can’t believe anyone would make adulthood an avoidable destination.
Gosh, I adamantly remember being fourteen or fifteen and threatening the adults in my life with such statements as: “When I get older, I’ll do X (what I want).” Looking back, it’s not that I wanted to be older; I wanted to be what I thought older meant. Respected, heard, validated, free. (And let’s be honest: I also wanted to score a real bed on family vacations instead of being relegated to a blanket pallet on the floor.)
I think even then I understood that while some benefits are attached to age, adulthood is less about how long you’ve lived and more about how much life you’ve lived. There are some ancient five-year-olds and some infantile seventy-two-year-olds. Our bodies age no matter what, but our maturity gets to choose. If you ask me, in the gap between the two, is wisdom.
I’m obsessed with wisdom.
In childhood, I knelt beside my bed many-a-times and prayed for wisdom like Solomon. I painstakingly memorized verses for youth group and recited Proverbs 2:6, “All wisdom comes from the Lord.” I grew up believing there was a lap I could always crawl into, a forever adult who didn’t pour a glass of wine to handle a difficult day, a creator who handled my successes and failures.
In adulthood, I still believe in that lap, that kind and good God, but I wish the lap was more fleshy and less faithy. That desire sends me searching for wisdom with eyes and nose and heart, and by God’s grace, I often find it in my friends.
These concepts show up in my writing. Maturity and failure. Wisdom and flesh. Questions and silence.
When I’m developing characters, I try to have all ages be wise and all ages be idiots. (Like me.) I write about immature adults who need to grow up and mature adults who are giving their inner child permission to exist. (Like me.) I write about students who shout wisdom one minute and act with impulsivity the next. (Like me.) That dichotomy is what makes people, of all ages, fiction or non-fiction, real. This has never been more true than in my latest novel, The June Boys.
For those of you unfamiliar with the novel, The June Boys is a split narrative following the crimes and consequences of a serial kidnapper. Above ground, Thea Delacroix is searching for her missing cousin, Aulus, and coming to terms with the fact The Gemini Thief may be her father. Below ground, we pick up with the kidnapped Aulus and his fellow June Boys on the day they run out of water.
These are characters in a crisis. If these characters were in the Target t-shirt aisle, they’d be shopping for something along the lines of “No More Pain.”
Thanks to an educational background in both counseling and theology, most of my writing weaves together chords of entertainment and healing. I tend to write about life’s unfair moments in highly readable ways.
This feels relevant because we’re all living an unfair moment: COVID-19 has the world upside down.
I’m tempted by that Target shirt and I find myself looking left to right wishing for someone older and wiser to hold me. I’d like someone else to tell me what wisdom looks like in the time of mass sickness and untimely death. It’s not that I’m actively scared of dying (yet); I’m scared that the other side of this thing is so unrecognizable I won’t know how to be. I know who to be–kind, loving, authentic–but how? That’s a different question entirely. I feel ill-equipped and my questions are bubbling.
How do I be me now?
How do I know what to do next?
Here’s a short scene from The June Boys where the main character, Thea, asks for help from another character, Constance. It’s my hope that there’s some peace in her answer for all of us.
Thea to Constance:
“You took a risk. How did you know what to do when there was so much at stake? When you had an instinct but nothing else? Because I don’t think I can know if I’m right unless I act like I am, but if I act and I’m wrong …”
Constance speaks slowly.
“Then you’ll be wrong, and while there might be consequences, the people who love you will still love you.”
I wish I could take the world into my lap right now and hold you tight. (Metaphorically. Realistically, I’m social-distancing like a reasonable human.) I wish I could tell you what to do next and share with you what is wise.
But I’m a child like you and an adult like you and the truth is, I don’t have the answers. All I know is on the other side of COVID-19, love is wise no matter the circumstances. (Target should put that on a shirt.)
What to start reading The June Boys? Listen to the first chapter of the The June Boys audiobook:
If you’re looking for more author guest posts on Page Chaser, check out: