At Trader Joe’s recently, I told the friendly cashier inquiring about my day, that I was not having a “real good adult day.” He commiserated. We all have terrible adult days.
On that particular day, I was hungover after attending a charity function the night before, and although I gave myself a few good adult points for drinking too much for a good cause, in the end, I still felt like liquid ass and was very ashamed of myself. I know better. Good Lord, do I know better. I’m 36 and a few someones’ mom. This was not my first…300 rodeos.
Not only had I drank about 3 glasses of wine more than my next two days could handle, but I smoked one tenth of one cigarette in an effort to…oh, God…to act cool around a high school acquaintance I hadn’t seen in 20 years. And when it was handed to me, I tried to smoke the wrong end of it! BECAUSE OF COURSE I DID.
Here are other adult things I’m bad at, in addition to not knowing my limits and how to actually be cool, instead of just try to look cool: remembering anything on a map, knowing the capitals of any state, or, frankly, where the states go on a map, punctuality, shaving the backs of my knees around the webby part without cutting myself, not NOT dropping lit candles, choosing topics of conversation that are considered appropriate, participating in small talk, being fancy. And, like,13,000 more.
And, yes, I almost scorched off the front of my head because I am insecure and make poor choices. Dear Lord, I’m forever going to be insecure and 16. Wait, no. Now, I’m insecure and 36. Shit. That’s so much worse.
I knew I deserved the mortal flu feelings I was having, and so when lovely guy in Hawaiian shirt made small talk, I made weird and honest. I’m not a real good adult, because I ALWAYS MAKE IT WEIRD. That’s another thing to go on the bad list.
Or not. I’m actually OK with that one. I think we’re all weird inside our own heads, just some people choose to manufacture less weird things to deliver out into the world.
But, you know, I don’t have to do all the adult things I’m supposed to do. I can’t, anyway, even if I tried. I mean, I have the basic adult stuff: age, steady domicile, having moved from original to newly created family, career type something to pay some bills, and I’m able to speak in ‘grownup way’ about ‘grownup things’ like throw pillows and, uh, stocks and bonds, and, umm, yachts, I guess? I know what a topiary is. Sort of. I listen to NPR*
*the story-telling programs, not so much the news
None of us totally ever feel like we’re pulling off this adult thing right. There’s room for regret about terrible choices (see above), and for personal improvement, but we can also elect not to do some of the adult stuff we get the impression we’re supposed to be doing, and that’s really fine.
Like, someday, I should probably learn something, anything about geography. I recently drew my home state backwards. That’s not great. If you know where I live, that’s kind of a big, dumb feat. That’s an area in which I’d like to improve…but, man, what do all the adult women magazines say we’re supposed to be succeeding at? Home decor? Perfect skin/hair/nails? Meh. I don’t want to be obsessed with my hedges or counter tops, or pores, or pounds, or color of my roots or bum hole (some people bleach both those last ones. WHY.).
So, I’m a clutsy, forgetful, weirdo, and sometimes an idiot, and I do some things very badly, but I’m also doing some things really well, as the adult version of me. Being adult affords me all these years of experience to have learned some stuff and gained perspective.
Not learned how NOT to drink too much at a gala, obviously, but other things, yes. Like forgiving myself for the things I don’t do so well. How to drink 3 pots of tea to cure a hangover. Also, I am learning to be more peaceful and creative, and less concerned with acquiring money or stuff or looking/presenting perfectly. Being weird and authentic and loving myself enough to get out of my own way, to better see and love other people, feels revolutionary, and like I’m on the right track. Working on THAT has been a time-consuming process. That’s my adult goal.
So, that day I wasn’t a real good adult, but overall, I’m kinda, sorta, mostly, a little bit becoming the adult I want to be. I imagine I’ll have it all figured out by 90 or 95.
That’s the last time that Trader Joe’s cashier will ever engage with a middle-aged woman wearing sunglasses inside.