I am an adult. That’s what I tell myself, anyway — when I’m buying vegetables at Trader Joe’s, when I’m smiling graciously at a fellow driver who hasn’t discovered the turn signal, when I’m staring at the cracked pizza stone in my oven wondering How the heck did that happen? — I am an adult.
Sometimes, I think we expect adulthood to mean that we have all of our shit together.
For the past three weeks, I was doing so well. I bought sensible groceries. I downloaded a budgeting app for my phone. I vacuumed. I made salads for lunch during the week and ate them happily in the company kitchen like a real adult. See?
And then, on Wednesday, the spiral began.
When you move to a new place, there’s this thing that happens: you don’t remember when trash day is, no matter how nice your landlady/upstairs neighbor is about reminding you. So you come home from work, you yank out your earrings and take off your pants, you set the fancy new security system that came with the place, and you’re halfway through scrubbing off your mascara when you remember. Oh.
So you shimmy into some comfy shorts, de-Winter-Soldierfy, and grab up your stinky garbage as you trudge towards the door (you martyr to the cause of responsible trash disposal, you). Only you forgot that you set the security system, and things. go. nuts.
The alarm is startling; it makes you jump and drop your garbage. And the only thing you’re thinking is My landlady is going to murder me. Her dog starts barking. The dog is old, and you wonder if you’re going to give the poor thing a heart attack. She loves that dog. She’ll evict you, and you’ll be out on the streets of a new city. Maybe they’ll let you sleep in the parking garage at work, you think. All the while, you’re punching in the code and wondering what you missed when the landlady taught you how to use the system.
Finally, she takes pity on you and disarms it from upstairs. She calls down the stairs:
“You okay, mi hija?”
“I’m fine. Sorry! Really, really sorry. I forgot.” You ramble on for a few more minutes, and she laughs at you and tells you that she did the same thing when she first got this thing installed.
Your heart doesn’t stop stomping on your ribs from the inside for several minutes. That’s it, you decide. I’m never using that thing again.
And you don’t, not until you make the mistake of watching the news, and you realize that you live in the suburbs of one of the nation’s biggest metropolitan areas, and that there are people out there who inspire Criminal Minds episodes. So you start using the security system again, but you have to find a way to remind yourself not to set it off. So you find a sock–a Spock sock, because you’re a giant nerd, and you fit it over the doorknob. You’re halfway to your bedroom when you remember that this is something people do to warn others that they’re — well, you know, making Marvin Gaye songs into reality.
Or at least, that’s how it all went down for me. This entire mess taught me a few things: 1) I’m not as well adjusted as I thought, 2) My life is truly a hot mess at the moment, and 3) That’s actually kind of okay. I win some.
(Here I am winning at decorating my cubicle at work, because I’m a grown-up and I have a cubicle.)
I lose some.
(RIP cilantro; at least the basil survived.)
But all in all, I’m figuring it out. Cracked pizza stones, beeping alarm systems, socks on the doorknob, unpacked boxes, piles of laundry, shower sob-fests, whispered I want my mommys and all, I am adulting. I haven’t died. I haven’t gotten arrested. I’m really good at my job, and I’m really good at being me. And even if being me means being a hot mess, I’m actually pretty okay with it.