The Day I Became an Adult

This is one of the custom blogs I do for my Facebook friends. I asked

“I kind of want to blog about some event from my life (sexual firsts, most embarrassing, near death, drug experiences, feminist ah-ha moments, etc) but I’m having trouble picking. Facebook friends, which ones would you like?”

Chris asked for “the day you realized you are an adult.”

To be honest, I don’t think this moment ever actually comes. As in, I don’t think anybody ever really feels like a capital A Adult. It’s a myth. We’re all the same people we started out as, just with more experience.

That being said, the first time I thought I might be an adult, I was 13 and my grandma was handing me the last bag of my things. She was making it extremely clear to me that I was no longer welcome to come back to her house. Until I was in college, and I learned that my grandfather was a rapist as well as an abuser, the move made no sense to me, except to reinforce that I was completely unwanted. As soon as my mother had a stable job, I was moved into her house with no take-backs.

From that day forward, I would be taking myself to school, two hours each way on the bus. The trip was something I’d done from time to time, but at that point it became my daily commute. I felt like a balloon that someone let go of. But at the same time I realized parental involvement in my life up to that point had been touch and go. So I slept in my mom’s boyfriend’s den, I woke up before sunrise to bus myself to 8th grade, I smoked on the bus stop before I bussed myself back, and then I woke up in the morning and did it all again. In a lot of ways, I was still very much a child with delusions of grandeur, but at the same time, I was also learning how to be responsible for my own care in a way no one else had the ability to be.

The next time I felt like I might be an adult was a year later. I had called my sponsor to complain that my mother, a lifelong disordered eater, hadn’t bought any food for our house in over a week and I was hungry. Rather than coddle me, as I expected this sweet grandmotherly lady to do, she matter-of-factly stated that it was time for me to get a job.

There’s a lot to be said for the roles parents should play, the things they should do, and that’s all well and good in terms of speculative talk. But when you’re hungry, and you have the means to get work, there’s only one logical conclusion, which is to go out and find a way to feed yourself.

Instead of feeling like a wayward balloon, this time around adulthood felt like a lifted burden. All of a sudden, I had the power of eating or not eating in my own two hands. Next time I needed to, I could take the money I earned cleaning houses and buy myself some food. And as long as I kept cleaning houses I kept earning money. It was the most elegant, straightforward solution to any problem I’ve ever had.

After that, adulthood came in fits and spurts. The time I bought myself a car, and then the process of learning how to drive it; when I moved out of my mom’s house for the first time, when I moved out of my mom’s house and actually stayed out (the second time); My first bill (paying for college), my first lease (junior year), my first car payment (2011). All these things behind me, and a million more things in front of me (successfully running my business, moving away from Los Angeles, owning a home, being a parent, etc.) are going to contribute to me looking very much like an adult, but the real truth is that I’ll never really be one in the way I always thought I would be. I thought that one day, I’d wake up, and I’d instinctively know what to do. That’s never going to happen, but experience has taught me that I am capable of doing more than I ever thought possible. That, given the choice, I’d rather not have a users manual to life. Because the times when I had no roadmap were the times when the most amazing things have happened to me, and the times when I thought I had it all figured out are some of the worst times of my life.