I was getting my hair cut last week when my stylist, Daniel, said, out of the blue, “Do you feel like a grown-up?”
Now, I think of Daniel as an adult. He didn’t go to college (which in my mind means he grew up faster than I did) and has at least ten years on me. He’s a gay, single mama’s boy, but he owns a condo and a new car and lives on his own. I, however, enjoy the occasional bowl of ice cream for dinner, sometimes have to use Kleenex when I run out of toilet paper, and have been known to let the registration on my car lapse.
“Sometimes.” I said. “What about you?”
“Well, I was just standing here thinking about how excited I am to get home tonight and play the new video game I bought this weekend. And then I realized that I’m getting close to 40 years old and I’m excited about a video game,” he giggled.
We laughed and talked about paying bills and staying out late on school nights. But that question really stuck with me. Abby recently asked about growing up and I had so many thoughts I couldn’t narrow them down into something coherent to comment. I’m still sort of in that place, but I’ve made a little progress.
I feel like an adult when I can pay bills without worrying if the check will bounce. When I use my credit card so that I can get the miles, not because I don’t have the money in my checking account, I feel responsible. When crazy things happen, like I have to pay lots of money to get my car to pass DEQ emissions tests or I need to pay the deposit on a new apartment, I can make it work. And that makes me feel self-sufficient and responsible.
I feel grown-up when I can deal with the surprises in life. Someone broke into my car again… At least I know who to call. A boy broke up with me… I’m surrounded by wonderful people. I travel to a foreign country with a national language that I don’t speak… I can handle it. Work puts me in a situation that makes me uncomfortable… I can stand up for myself and do what I know is right. I have a solid foundation of friends, family and love that make me who I am.
On the other hand, I can’t cook. I don’t know the difference between “less than” and “fewer.” I have a hard time following rules like, Eat healthy, Don’t buy things you don’t need,and Always be on time. I think speech impediments and puns are funny. I love terrible pop music. I have a really hard time saying no to anything involving fun. The other day, my boss’ boss at The Foundation caught me in the halls at work riding on a hand truck pushed by a coworker. I am just a few clicks away from believing in the Tooth Fairy and eating Froot Loops for breakfast.
So I think of it sort of like learning the English language; you have to learn the rules so you can break them. I’m grown-up enough to act like a kid if I want to.
Besides, a totally immature 26-year-old would never have credit as good as mine.