I’m days away from turning 30. I used to think to myself, “When I grow up, I’ll …” and I never really figured out when it would be official that I was grown up. It’s kind of like who gets to decide who has the power to classify a runner? There is no running God who bestows that title on you. Bart Yasso doesn’t show up at mile 4 and say, “Congratulations, you’ve just become a runner.” And no one tells you when you’re grown up.
I have a list of things I want to do when I’m grown up, which includes owning a home in Jackson Hole, Wyo., giving a substantial donation to an organization that inspires me, producing a documentary, and so on.
I don’t know what it was about this past weekend that I suddenly started to feel old. I noticed it first on Saturday morning when I went to the grocery store and ran into three friends. We spent time catching up in the produce aisle or in the freezer section. These were the people I’d get tipsy with at a preppy dive bar in Georgetown, and now I’m arranging yoga class with. I watched in sheer amazement as one of my best friends made Chex Mix and wondered how this had happened.
I’ve moved into a house that demands I learn how to be domestic, from changing the smoke detector batteries to addressing leaky pipes in the basement to unclogging drains. I host dinner parties now instead of going out to bars at wee hours. My neighbor asked me if I live at my home with my parents, and admittedly that doesn’t make me feel grown up.
I consoled a friend over breaking off her engagement and offered that she could stay at my house. I begged another to seek help for her eating disorder that has sunk her into such a deep depression that she can’t get out of bed until the afternoon. And then I learned that someone I know died on Saturday night from a heart attack at 32. His death was more related to the fact that he probably never grew up, but that doesn’t matter now. I felt old because life seems messy.
I’ve wanted to grow up for a while. It’d be nice not to be carded on dates. It’d be nice for people to not assume that I don’t know how to pay taxes. Mostly, I want to feel grown up because that’s the time when I would start to tackle that list–you know, the list we make for later. On my run on Sunday, I realized that the title of grown up isn’t the requirement for starting that list. It should be started now.
If you read Christopher Hitchens’s last piece, which was about Dickens, in Vanity Fair, you realize that one should never want to be grown up. Because the list is based on childhood fantasies, being grown up I think stops one from accomplishing it. Retirement (which may never come) is put ahead of splurging on great art or going to Machu Picchu.
I realize there’s a reason why no one ever tells you you’re grown up–because no one ever should. I no longer want the title of “grown up” for my 30th birthday. I do want the boxes checked, and so my promise to myself for reaching 30 is not to grow up and make the list longer. And I am happy to let my neighbors think I live with my parents.Tweet