We know the classic jingle, “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys”R”Us kid...” We also know of the fabled toy store’s fate—an American icon fading to black after 60 years. 

My middle sister Kim and I drove past the front of a Toys”R”Us one last time while I took an obligatory RIP-ish picture on my phone. 

We then headed to Dave & Buster’s. I’ve never been to one; I followed Kim around to take it all in. It was a giant arcade for grownups. I wasn’t sure about being there, but we had a blast. 

I got to thinking, as I always analytically do. As a kid, I had such a passion for life, despite a tough childhood. I wanted to laugh, explore, create, and make friends anyway. Have I gotten so serious as an adult that life isn’t fun anymore? Has an incurable numbness of reality, cynicism, and responsibility spelled out my banal existence? The morning birds sing. I don’t listen, because my alarm clock ticked me off. There’s a majestic sunrise, but it’s unnoticed in my rear view mirror as I rush off to work. 

When I was younger, Mama took me on Sunday drives after church and she would intently “get off the freeway,” picking random roads to drive down. I started noticing more interesting details of my surroundings which made things more fun. 

I took a drive last weekend “off the freeway” through six Pennsylvania towns. I saw an intricately carved Bigfoot sculpture from a tree stump in Hermitage and a howling wolf made out of someone’s front yard snow in Harrisville. 

I dined at a nearby restaurant (Family Tradition) that was built around an old 1930’s diner (The Spot). I saw the bustling historic downtown of Butler and learned by accident that the Jeep was invented there at the American Bantam Car Company. Pretty cool, considering how Jeep parts are manufactured at the Kokomo Casting Plant where I work. It was as if the kid in me became wide-eyed with intrigue again. 

I found something of lost value: that childlike sense of awe I once had. I’m determined to get it back. The more I grew up, the more hardened from life I became. 

“Adulting” definitely brought plenty of groaning. It’s still a privilege to see life’s many wonders around me and to maximize the good things in life. 
At nearly 43, I refuse to be all “groan” up.  Yetemar-Kenyell Cross is an avid foodie and traveler. He works at the FCA Kokomo Casting Plant.