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Turning Points

06/19/08 7:55AM By Helen Labun Jordan
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I did my first VPR commentary as part of the 10 in their 20's series. We were supposed to be voices for the decade that's a transition from teenager to adult, and so for a turning point commentary it made sense to look for a defining moment in that transition.

A single point of change is hard to find in a decade when many of us are making lots of big changes like getting married, getting divorced, having babies, buying life insurance and beginning mortgage payments. Still, focus began to emerge last month when I got a call from my best friend from first grade. Her husband had just received a job offer to be principal of our old elementary school. My first thought was that this is the woman our friends knew best for an incident in seventh grade when, overcome by a fit of laughter, she accidentally stuck a sharpened pencil up one nostril and gave herself a bloody nose. That's a ticket to instant fame when you're thirteen.

My old friend's new status made me notice how this sort of thing is happening all around me. There's the friend who spent most of his college years practicing how get free things by complaining. His accomplishments ranged from complimentary dinners to plane tickets. He now runs an entire department of Ohio state government. Then there's the friend who was scared of cows and another who spent senior spring mapping out a donut tour of New York City - both doctors. The roommate who regularly glued her fingers together in failed arts and crafts projects? She's a civil engineer in California. Her job is to keep buildings from falling down in an earthquake.

There is a trend here. One by one the people we most respected in our youth are replaced by... our friends... who are not respectable. They are mildly embarrassing. If I were a first grader again, and knew my principal married a woman famous for sticking a pencil up her nose, would he inspire so much awe in me?

No. I have a sinking feeling that this new perspective is the final turning point; it is a sea change and the true hallmark of actually entering into adulthood.

Thank you.
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