Oh my god… I’m an adult

Personal insights
At war with reality…
Well, this should be fun.

To my friend… surely you will know this is about you. But it isn’t about you. It is how ‘you’ led me to a great personal insight that lends itself to a blog post. I sincerely hope you (and your family) won’t be offended.

To my mom… no comment necessary. I can hear you laughing from here.

I have always considered the day I gave birth to my first born as the day that I reached full maturity. Yes, I had been employed for 12 years by that time and married for nearly 10. Yes, I had a mortgage and 2 car payments; three cats and 7 houseplants looked to me for survival. But for some reason none of those ever made me feel mature the way having a child did. A switch seemed to literally flip on somewhere in my reptilian brain that could never, ever be switched off again.

So imagine my surprise when this weekend another event happened that seemed to take me yet another step toward maturity.

My family went to a celebration for a dear friend who is about 20 years younger than me and single. (I am changing all sorts of descriptors to protect the innocent and my friendship.) She was celebrating an important milestone and we wanted to be there, with her parents, aunt and cousins, to mark the occasion.  My family arrived at her apartment a little early – she was still out with her mom, aunt and cousins, but her dad was there so we made ourselves comfortable. Well, Frank and the kids did. I was antsy. I wasn’t sure why… I couldn’t bring myself to sit down; I was unusually restless given I was actually a little tired. I wandered room to room, looking… for what I couldn’t say.

And then it hit me. I wanted to straighten her apartment. I wanted to organize things and empty trash cans and go to the Container Store and buy matching bins. She had stuff e v e r y w h e r e, and I couldn’t find a uniting theme to things no matter how hard I tried … and believe me I tried.

There was a dining room, but it was home to such a variety of items that my natural tendency to look for patterns went all wonky.   Her dining table clearly was meant to host food for the party — there was food on it already — but there were also other things, many of which I couldn’t identify at all.  This from a woman who can tell if the little part is playmobil, polly pocket or littlest pet shop with ease… I was stumped.

Her living room was quaint, also doubling as office and pet sanctuary. I loved how everything was at an angle (I think to take advantage of the limited wall outlets and the somewhat unhelpful non-working fireplace). Yet I wanted to stack all the items on her desk. Wanted to rearrange the bookshelf to be more efficient. I kept examining the traffic flow of people and imagining how it might be more effective with a tweak to the furniture arrangement.

It was about at this point that my awareness turned internal and I thought to myself, with horror — oh my god… I’m acting like a grown up. A real grown up. So I wandered into the kitchen — really cute and retro, given the age of the house.  But 20 seconds in I was once again imagining the perfect shelves and racks for a corner, which would allow her to…

“STOP!” I cried to myself.  “You have a problem! Her home is perfectly fine. If your own mother were here she would be rolling on the floor laughing at you and saying something sinister like ‘paybacks are hell, sweetie!’ She would be retelling (for the ump-teenth time) stories about how your room was knee deep in clothes growing up and how your first apartment was so messy that it required two days of cleaning before company came.’  I took a deep breath, steadied myself, reminded myself of her age and lifestyle (more like that of a student) and sat down.

I was up again in an instant, as if I hadn’t just had a personal insight. Well, I said to myself, if I can’t attack the entire apartment, I can at least get the table cleared for the rest of the food that was about to arrive. I grabbed a small, cute and empty container (why is it empty? she could put stuff in here!), put everything from the table that wasn’t food related into it, and sat it on a random shelf. I arranged things, put out more food, made some assumptions and generally felt better having made just one small something organized.

Once I had done this, once I had felt useful and satisfied my need for order, I was able to enjoy the party, which started in earnest shortly after this. It was only on the drive home that it hit me: so this is what it feels like to be an adult, all grown up. This compulsion to take care of and make organized (at least from my point of view!)… surely this was a sign of either illness or maturity.

When I arrived home, I humbled myself by looking at my desk and my table, both of which could use some of my own medicine. Those who know me know that I don’t keep a tidy house – there are toys everywhere and loads of knick-knacks which make the place feel a little cluttered. So I can’t yet reconcile my compulsion to straighten her house with my own failings in the keeping-a-straightened-house department.  It could just be further evidence of god’s wickedly good sense of humor, or something I should get treated for as soon as possible.

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