It starts slowly. A trip taken by yourself. Paying for that cute bomber jacket with money that you earned at your job. And then it gets bigger. You start cooking for yourself. You buy plane tickets by yourself. You can remember things that happened five years ago.
Suddenly, you’re standing in front of a stovetop in Venice, stirring spaghetti and making sure it’s the perfect amount of al dente because that’s important to you, and realizing that this might be a moment that you tell your kids, or your cat, about in twenty years. When you were a twenty-year-old with wild hair, bare feet against cold linoleum in a rented apartment that you think is quaint but will probably realize later looks a little bit like a very upscale prison, cooking pasta and burning the pancetta.
And you realize that five years ago, you were fifteen, and you were just as cognizant as you are now. Because five years before that, you were ten and you couldn’t cross the road without getting hit by a goddamn car.
And you realize that your friends are seniors and juniors in college, and they’re all getting “jobs” and you have an internship where no one tells you when not to have your phone or when to take your lunch break. And that’s scary.
Because you’re still a kid. You still eat ice cream out of the carton and leap-frog across the white stripes of the crosswalk. You still can’t decide how exactly planes stay up in the air because how the goddamn fuck does a giant metal soda can with wings fly in the sky and why aren’t we calling that magic? You still haven’t registered to vote, but you’ve registered for the draft. You can drive a car, but you can never remember if milk cartons are recycled or just thrown out.
You realize that the daydreams of yesterday are the reality of tomorrow and suddenly you’ll have to start thinking about what it is you might do with your life, and that makes you really want to watch Netflix in bed forever.
I went to the first day of my internship today. For the first hour, I didn’t even touch my phone. I was afraid to. I thought that someone would tell me to stop. Then I began tentatively checking an email. And then I realized that no one really cares what I’m doing unless I’m doing my job and doing it well. And then I realized that I’m doing a job.
I went to the supermarket after work. I made a grocery list. I daydreamed about what I was going to cook with my kale. Peppers. I’m going to cook peppers with my kale.
I like getting older because I looked tragic in high school and I’m finally starting to look cute—maybe next year I’ll hit a second puberty and pull some sort of Duckling-Swan thing (unlikely)—but today was the first day where I was like, “Wait, I’m living a real, human person life, and that’s gross.” So I’m in a little bit of a upward spiral. It’s upward because technically this is a good thing, but it’s a spiral because I have a weak stomach and a propensity towards motion sickness on amusement park rides.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that just because someone graduates college or has a job or pays “bills” doesn’t mean that they’re an adult. Because I don’t know if I want to be an adult. Adults can’t throw temper tantrums because that’s just called anger issues. Adults can’t lie around all day and eat Maltesers because they have to earn money. So I want to be an adult but also a kid and also a teen, but not a tween because that was a gross time for me. Truly, truly, a gross time.
Age doesn’t make you an adult. Responsibility makes you an adult. So I plan on avoiding that like the plague. Which I also avoid.