This has been a week for reflection on the internets. A blog friend wrote about aging, a forum had a discussion about adulthood, and another blogger posted an entry on the quarter life crisis. And while I’ve never been one to fret about numbers, getting older or having an existential crisis whenever I please, I can’t help but often look around my life in sheer wonder and ask ‘when the hell did this happen?’
Cause that’s the thing with time – it sneaks up on you and while a workweek can feel like forever, suddenly you’re reflecting on the last five or ten years of your life and you’re not sure where the time went and was any of this really planned anyhow?
I think adulthood rears its ugly head when you find yourself in the store purchasing toilet paper and cleaning supplies instead of clothes or music. Or the first few times you pay bills. Or you buy actual groceries for the week, not just a supply of Ichiban and Kraft Dinner. Eventually you probably buy a house or an apartment and realize that now you have to like, maintain it. And do yardwork, shovel snow, repair cat scratched walls and shop for cat-proof furniture. At least now you can laugh at the look on the salesman’s’ face when he comes to your door and asks if your parents are home, and you tell him you’re the owner. And you no longer HAVE to clean your room – you really do get to live with the mess you make. Eventually you discover that you like clean dishes, like all the time.
Instead of shutting down the club and proceeding to eat your way around the night city like a plague of locusts, you go out for a civilized dinner and drinks instead. Instead of chain smoking and drinking coffee on the run, while navigating in a haze of sleep deprivation on your way to work, you eat a proper breakfast and pick up an exercise habit (or at least the intent thereof). Your conversation shifts from philosophy to… actually that still stays the same. You still don’t have any answers, despite the years of extra reflection. Sometimes you just feel lucky you survived the twenties plagued as they are with worries, doubts, increasing responsibilities, and letting go of fun in lieu of consumerism.
Gradually you find yourself surrounded with friends who are married or are having children, or both. And one day the balance from your childless friends drops to the point where you’re a minority. Friends scatter across the city, the country and the world. Some friendships are sacrificed along the way lost to distance and time and different lifestyles. Some move into the realm of acquaintances about whom you think fondly even though your only contact is liking each others’ status updates on Facebook. Some endure and get stronger despite new challenges. Suddenly you’re scheduling appointments to see your friends, like adult play dates and not simply hang out casually, spontaneously and constantly.
Some days you feel like you’re faking this whole adult thing. You look around your office or your house and literally feel like you’re just pretending, like you’re nowhere near mature or responsible and someone will see through the disguise. Then you realize everyone probably feels the same way at some point, and likely no one cares anyway. Sometimes you miss the carefree college days and others you shudder at the thought of a hangover and being THAT broke again. Now you think about investing for the future and dreaming of retirement. On a tropical island of course. As soon as possible please.
And if you’re determined, you can throw off the veneer of adulthood and maturity and do fun incredible things with the abandon that free time and money can bring. You can schedule tropical retreats with your friends and actually have the cash to go. You can go on road trips and take every single oddball turn that strikes your fancy. You can call in sick to work and be completely believable, since you’ve spent months faking responsibility so well. You can stay up as late as you want on weekends and eat all junk you feel like while doing a Lost marathon at three a.m. You can still judge stale and staid old guys with their useless rhetoric about their lying agendas. You can still have traces of your idealism and refuse to let them drown under the guise of practicality. You can still not have a CLUE what to do with yourself and life and ponder the meaning of the universe under the stars. And now you can do it with a drink in your hand and the knowledge that there are no answers.