On Sunday I completed yet another trip around the sun: I turned 23. I told O. before that I was looking forward to being 23 because it's an odd number, and better yet, prime. But now that it's here, 23 seems alarmingly close to 25, which is sort of an okay number because it's a square of a prime, but is mostly intimidating and even alarming. A twenty-five year old is definitely an adult. Teenage years and even the amphibian early twenties are behind you.
I am not ready to be twenty-five. But that's all right, because I have two more years to get ready. For the moment, I am twenty-three. Which leaves me thinking about whether I feel more grown up this year, or less.
Points toward being more grown up:
+Graduated from college.
+Moved out of my parents' house for real.
+Signed a lease.
+Got my first credit card.
+Set up a sublease.
+Changed a diaper.
+Drove on a New Jersey freeway.
+Changed my name and got the social security card to prove it.
On the other hand, I have lost some of the progress I had made toward being (or feeling like) an independent adult:
– No checks with my name on them. O. has piles of checks with just his name (and his address from two apartments ago) and at present we're using those up instead of getting new accurate ones. Thus I have to ask him to write a check any time there's one that needs writing, whereas before we got married I'd had my own bank account and checks for five or six years.
– No car I feel comfortable driving. (It's O.'s car and I've driven it twice, for a total of less than 5 miles.)
– No donations with my name on them. They're all made from O.'s accounts these days and he is the one entering the numbers and clicking the buttons and making sure they go through. This makes me feel like I'm not taking any action to give to charity. I am part of the decision-making process, of course, but I miss actually giving myself.
– No job, no income of my own. I do babysit occasionally but that feels more like a throwback to high school than anything adult.
– I'm not leading any groups. This is a relief in some ways but I do miss it. I miss helping and teaching.
– O. and I are younger than most of the people we interact with regularly. I'm not a senior in college but a baby among adults.
On balance, I guess there are more +s than –s, which ought to mean I am more of an adult. Sometimes I feel this and other times I don't. (It's interesting to think about how much of what makes me feel independent might be financial independence, or at least independence to make financial decisions myself. I should probably be mulling that over.) I never thought that graduation and marriage could make me feel less grown up, less confident and capable. I thought that the feeling of being an adult must continue to increase slowly but surely, that it would never dip or plummet.
But I guess part of growing up is learning you were wrong. So I'll mark that as another +, and accept the fact that I am more of an adult now than I was a year ago, even if I feel less of one than I did last spring--
when I was too busy to sit around listening to the birds,
when every hour needed to be planned for,
when time's slipping made me feel important and competent and frantic,
when I thought, deep down, that
that feeling signified
being grown up.