Hello, friends. I have some big news to share. I have become a woman!
No, I didn’t just start my period - that happened when I was in fourth grade, years before all the other girls, and I still have the emotional scars to prove it. Nor did I just lose my virginity - that happened well into my twenties, years after all the other girls, and I did have the emotional scars to prove it until I learned that Tina Fey also kept her v card until a late age so now I’m an out and proud member of the Old Virgins Club.
It turns out that, contrary to every Judy Blume novel ever written, womanhood is not one (likely v bloody) milestone that you can check off in your diary, but something unexpected and innate that sneaks up on you from behind whether you’re ready or not.
In every way I am an adult. I am thirty-two years old, by which I mean I’m very much “in my thirties,” woof. I’m married. I have a robust 401K and an assistant and a bad hip and multiple blazers and yet I still feel like a perpetual tween. I do in some ways think that city living may be a bit to blame. Unlike the town where I grew up, people here generally marry later, have kids later, live in tiny rental apartments with roommates into their 30’s, 40’s and beyond. The traditional trappings of adulthood, as embodied by the suburban parents of my childhood, don’t seem to apply to me or to any of my NYC friends, so I’ve been able to hold onto a sort of eternal Peter Pan feeling. We’re all growing older, but are any of us growing up? When I see my peers doing these adulty things like procreating or buying four bedroom houses on cul-de-sacs it feels utterly foreign and somehow wrong, like they’re play acting at real life. Those things are for adults and we can’t possibly be adults yet. I mean, I certainly am not! Or... am I?
Some of this, surely, is because I’m such a horrid snob about non-urban living - the word “cul-de-sac” is basically moist to my ears (shudder, shudder) - but in other ways it still just takes me by surprise every day that I’m allowed to do things like take money out of the bank or rent a car without a note from my mom.
I’d say it’s a mix of this snobbishness, a little jealousy, a whole bunch of fear, and no small pinch of denial that’s had me feeling pretty OK about this eternal tween scene. Who even needs adulthood?? SEEMS BORING.
And then, when I least expected it, it found me.
Last week I was hanging out with two young co-workers, both 22, fresh outta college, just like me! Err...me circa a literal decade ago. I have always known I’m like, older than these gals, but we’re all still peers, right? Hashtag millennials! Snapchat! The Chainsmokers, probably!?!?
The two of them were regaling the group with funny stories about their apartment situations - all the post-college classics like bad roommates and plenty of mice, navigating subleases and guarantors, pulling together just enough cash for a security deposit, crashing on couches, full of optimism and enviable naivete As they talked I became filled with these unexpected feelings. I was worried for them. I wanted to nurture them. I could sympathize with what they were going through, having been there myself before, but I could not currently relate. Instead of being like, “OMG girls, life is so crazy, should we do some shots?!”, I just...nodded, a supportive yet moderately concerned look on my face. I gave them advice on dealing with landlords and reminded them never to meet a person from Craigslist without a buddy. I blithely uttered the phrase, “when I was your age,” with no irony whatsoever and all at once it hit me: holy shit, me, you are a grown-up.
Apparently to achieve adulthood you need not purchase a townhouse or a minivan or even just one of those medium sized SUVs all the hot soccer moms are driving these days, you simply need to close your eyes and think “dear god, you could not pay me to be 22 again” and whoosh, there you are, in adulthood. It’s like Dorothy clicking her ruby slippers to get home again except instead of leaving Oz behind, it’s your youth that’s fading from technicolor behind you.
Ain't life something?
So there you have it, world, I am an adult now. I am not a girl, not yet ... nope... 100% a woman. And I don’t know how I feel about it, so if anyone’s looking for me you’ll find me at the nearest Chico’s indulging in a little retail therapy while I sort it all out.
Whatever the mature version of xoxoxox is,