Tuesday, May 20, 2014

When Did You Know You Were An "Adult"?

A few weeks before my 30th birthday, I was carded while buying a bottle of red wine at my local Tesco. I was thrilled. The legal age for purchasing alcohol in the UK is a mere 18, compared to 21 in the States (heck, they ID'd my mom in Target a few years ago when she was buying a bottle of champagne. My mom. A senior citizen). I showed my Washington State driver's licence to the cashier and proudly proclaimed, "I'll be 30 in a few weeks", to which he replied with a nod and a smile.

And because I look a few years younger than my age, I often don't feel like an adult - until I have to make adult decisions (like, deciding that hanging over the side of my bed like a giraffe and squinting via one eye at my iPhone every morning isn't probably the best way to preserve my eyesight) or until I see my parents and realize how child-like they've become in my eyes (without thinking, I asked my Dad three times if he needed to pee before we embarked on a 2-hour car journey through Oxfordshire last year and then couldn't contain myself when he started popping huge grapes into his mouth, begging him to please bite them in half first to avoid choking).

The first time I felt like an adult was when I started to buy my own contact lenses. That was last year. Up until then, my dad ordered and paid for them at our family optician in Canada and had them sent to my address here in London. Gross, right? Grow up, right? Yeah, I know. I'd be like, "Dad, I need new contact lenses. Can you send over my prescription?" And he'd go, "Why don't I just order them for you?" And I'd be like, "Yeah, okay. But I'll pay you back!" And he'd reply, "Don't worry about it. It's small change." And so on and so forth.

The second time I felt like an adult was when I walked out of the bathroom at John Lewis with my mom and craned my neck to get a better look at something. "What? Did you see a cute dress over there?" my mom asked. "No," I sighed. "I saw the most amazing vacuum cleaner. It just looks ... so good. Like it could suck every bit of dirt up ..." I trailed off. I heard the wistfulness in my voice and was mortified. A vacuum cleaner. I was lusting over a vacuum cleaner.

Sometimes, I visit friends' houses and I think, "Oh my God. You're such an adult." Here are the ways I can tell:

1) They offer me a drink other than water. If you come to my house? You get water. From the tap. I might let it run and wait for it to get really cold, but yeah, it's from the tap. Sometimes squash (which is this weird concentrate thing they drink here in the UK, which you mix with water - like, Ribena is a type of squash), but mostly water. When I go over to Tom and Cristy's house, I'm offered (in no particular order): water, sparkling water, sparkling wine, wine, ginger beer (from Australia), Diet Coke, Coke, and this hilarious minty-citrus drink they get called "Lime-on". After dinner, it's: espresso, "regular" tea, mint tea, camomile tea, lemon and ginger tea or French press coffee. After dinner at my house, I'm like, "Anyone want some ... water?"

2) Similarly, they have a magical array of pre-dinner snacks to offer guests. Rice crackers? Olives? Some canapes I prepared using Waitrose smoked salmon and this pack of organic oat thins I picked up at Planet Organic? Look, if there are any snacks in my cupboard, they will get eaten. By me. I do not just "happen" to have some hand-smoked chips lying around for your pre-meal consumption that just "happen" to go excellently with wine. I'm SORRY. I'm an adult FAILURE.

3) They own Diptyque candles. I'm sorry, who has £40 to spend on candles? Adults do, apparently. And they burn them, apparently. In places other than the bathroom, apparently.

4) They have sets of matching cups and glasses. I tried. I really tried with this. I bought a set of small tumblers from IKEA once. Like, six. Broke two, left with four. I have numerous different types of wine glasses. Of course, they all originated in a happy family of four. But at some point, I killed off one or two family members and then I just gave up matching. If I have four people over, every single person gets a different glass.

5) See Point 3 above, but with plates. I increasingly wish that we had a wedding registry rather than being noble and asking people to donate to our favorite charity. I'M KIDDING. But only kind of. I WOULD LIKE SOME MATCHING PLATES, DAMMIT. Please don't get started on my flatware.

6) They use words like "flatware" and ask for things like chef's knives or a herb chopper for birthdays. Adults cook. They do not eat mac 'n cheese out of the box, order Domino's pizza on a weekend, or have Pop Tarts for breakfast. They plan their meals for the week in advance and scrawl through Pinterest for hours on end looking for new recipe ideas. I make spaghetti bolognese every time a guest comes over. Because it's the only dish I can make well.

7) Their walls are full of adoring black and white photographs of each other on their wedding day. My walls are blank because I still rent my place and do not foresee becoming a homeowner in the near future (see this post).

8) They are well-versed in current events and speak eloquently on subjects such as "referendums", the "up-coming election", Syria, Russia, Nigeria, etc. I'm like, "Did y'all see Beyonce's sister whoop Jay-Z's ass in the elevator after the Met Gala? What was that all about?" with my mouth full.

9) They have children. I regard my friends who are parents with a sort of reverence: these are people whose sole focus, for at least a few hours per day, becomes the comfort and well-being of their child, rather than the comfort and well-being of themselves. My sole focus is myself. All the time. Hats off to you.

10) They have a garden with real flowers that they actually look after and garden furniture that does not rust.  So, I went out to assess our "garden" the other day. It was filled with weeds. I went out and proceeded to de-weed the damn thing, all the while swotting at flies that were landing on my neck and yelping every time a little worm or other insect moved, disgruntled that I had unearthed their home. I angrily texted John, "I HATE GARDENING" accompanied with a red emoticon that looked like its face was about to explode. Meanwhile, my neighbors (homeowners) across the fence were having what looked like a fantastic barbecue with their BFFs, enjoying their freshly laid grass while I shot icy glares in their direction.

So. Do you feel like an adult? And when did you know?


  1. Everything about this post is hilarious. I don't feel like an adult at all. But I think "being an adult" (like many things) is whatever you make it. I can definitely relate, though. Especially to #8 haha I often wonder if I'm "concerned enough" about certain things.

    1. Haha, thanks, Maslo! I completely agree. I think as soon as I graduated from college and moved to London, I definitely felt more like an adult, although not completely like one. I feel like being an adult simply means more responsibilities and completely looking after yourself i.e. being completely independent - which I know probably happened to more of my friends a lot earlier than it happened to me, if that makes any sense!

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    1. *I had to re-post this...found a typo hahaha*
      Oh, that makes perfect sense. I'm in the exact same boat. Especially now that more of my friends are getting married and having children. Their responsibilities are piling up, and I'm over here like, "So...should I eat actual food while I watch Sherlock on Netflix, orrrr just stuff some cheese curls into my face and call it a night?" And it's so true that moving away adds to your sense of independence. No one to rely on but yourself. I moved away for a few years, then moved back to the state where my mother and grandparents live. Looking forward to the move to England in the fall and feeling like a grown-up again, hahaha!

    2. Yes, making "actual food" is a perpetual conundrum for me. I wish I was one of those people who "loved to cook", but unfortunately I'm just not wired that way! Hope your move this fall goes well! Are you coming for school or work or something else?

    3. I'm moving there for (more) school -- a PhD program, a.k.a. the absolute LAST thing standing between me and the "real" world. I'm hoping to secure a job there afterwards. It's been my goal to live abroad (in London specifically) for a long time. Thanks for the well-wishes :)

    4. That's so exciting! And how amazing to fulfill a life goal. I hope you have a fantastic time here.

  3. Great post. I'm definitely with you on the candles!

  4. I didn't so much realize I was an adult as insist upon it. For a long time it felt a little awkward to refer to myself and my peers as "women" instead of "girls." But now I never give it a second thought. Kind of a "fake it till you make it" approach.

    1. OMG, Marjorie - I was NOT a woman when I was at MHC. I was totally a girl. They are all girls! They're so YOUNG. Except for the FPs (hahahahahaha).


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