What is the moment that you leave childhood and enter adulthood?
It seems, today, that being an 'adult' is a very unpopular decision.
No one wants to admit they are one, sort of like being Voldemort - "The State of Being That Shall Not Be Named."
As if there is something very wrong with being an adult.
There may be truth in that statement. But for me, being an adult is not like wearing a giant red "A" pinned to my chest.
Perhaps, because I've been one for such a long time. Maybe, even, before I was ready.
And, if truth be told, I believe that I become one less and less every year. More on that later.
The precise turning point, the exact spot where I pivoted from childhood to adulthood, isn't clear.
It's more of a series of experiences I lived as a child and a teenager:
*It was standing at the door of the local dive bar asking the nearest available drunk to fetch my step-father...again...for reasons that escape me today.
*It was cleaning up the kitchen after the 2nd day in a row of my mother being unable to get out of bed because she didn't have the boost she needed from crank.
* And when I was able to drive, it was going to pick up the boost she needed from her...um, friend?
*It was moving out at 16 to live with a man 11 years my senior.
*I grew up when I had to live with a man who felt I was trying to kill him by testing drugs on him that I was cooking in my meth lab in the attic, despite there being no equipment, puncture wounds OR attic.
*I grew up after being used as a human shield one night because whatever drug he took made him even more paranoid than he already was AND he was convinced that I had hired someone to snipe him through the windows of our house.
*I had to grow up after things I won't say.
*Being chased from the house by a gun wielding step-father makes you put on your big girl britches as well.
*Bailing out BOTH parents, at different times, also brings to light exactly which one of the 3 of you is the real adult.
Then I had my own children, who disobediently grow up and take risks that leave me with gray hair. Risks that are as simple as walking home from school on their own to learning to drive a car. The endless "IFs" and the memories from my own teenagedom make me want to spend the rest of my golden years utterly and completely inebriated. Children were another straw on the camel's weak back, forcing me to walk into adulthood.
Watching loved ones leave us forever is something that both child and adult can do, but only the adult realizes that all to soon it will be them.
I pulled out a pair of shoes recently that were tucked into my closet. On the toe of one shoe is a dark spot - blood. The blood is from when I helped a friend who recently went through yet another surgery to battle the beast that is breast cancer. She had a drain that needed to be emptied, but the fluid had to be measured first. The measuring process didn't go very well and we both ended up wearing bits of her. After I cleaned up the mess, I noticed my shoe and didn't think much of it. So why now, so many months later, would it be an issue?
Because she is gone. The friend that was just a few months younger than me couldn't slay the demon. It won. When they - the people in our life - start to bow to the power of mortality, you cannot help but realize that you've grown up. Time is ever advancing and you too will be someone that is wept over, missed, and hopefully never forgotten.
There is no escaping it, this moment, when you realize that you are an adult.
With each passing year I try to not take life as seriously, because it will claim me regardless. But I've earned the right to call myself an adult and to actually be one.
However, that doesn't mean that I will not roar like a dinosaur when I walk across the grocery store parking lot in an effort to embarrass my teenage daughter. It doesn't mean that I won't get ALL the lyrics to an Eminem song wrong while singing at the top of my lungs...again...in the car, with the teenagers. It doesn't mean that I will not take every opportunity to sit in wet sand, lick the frosting off of a cupcake and say, "Yes!" when asked if by my teenagers if I want to go cruise downtown at 10:00 p.m. on a Saturday night.
I may be an adult, but as an adult I get to define exactly what that means to me.
And for me, it means.....wait....
I'm not ready to define what it means.
I'm not ready to put into words something that could imply that I have it all figured out.
Because I don't.
And if I did, then it might mean I'm dead.
And THAT is something I'm REALLY not ready for.
So, crank up the music while I learn how to Dougie *BADLY* so that I can continue to embarrass my children and provide them with memories that they will, hopefully, look back on with a smile.
I like this adult gig.