Today I turn 26, at something like 5:38 p.m. CDT (I was born on East Coast time, you know. Empire State forever, etc.). To me, 26 has always been the Adulthood Birthday. My mom was 26 when she had me, so knowing she was married with kids by this age always made me see it as the bare minimum of years I needed under my belt before I would be able to do those things without seeming too young. At 26, I'd be a legitimate adult, old enough for everything.
I've actually been old enough for everything (including lower insurance on car rentals) for a while now, but that hasn't kept 26 from sort of looming out there. When I was little I always wondered what I'd be like on my 26th birthday. What would I be doing as a job? Would I be married? Have a house? Look like a put-together grown-up lady?
Well, let's see. Not married, and no kids, but that's okay. Everything happens in time, and frankly I am still a kid myself. I don't know that I'll feel responsible enough for a while, especially not when I still enjoy regressing and wearing my band sweatshirt from high school as much as I do. At the very least, I think maybe when I stop wanting Swedish Fish for breakfast, that'll be about the time when I start feeling like doing other mature things like marriage and kids.
I live in an apartment (my first without a roommate) and not a house. I bought a new car this year, which made me feel very, very adult. My brother moved to Minneapolis a few months ago, and that makes me feel like I actually, finally have roots in the city I've lived in for 8 years. I hate real pants, but I do manage to put them on and go to work every day.
So am I a real, live adult? Am I at least as mature at 26 as my mom was? I really don't know. Some of the things that make a person a Grown-Up to me, like financial stability, my mom had a leg up on. Her dad was a farmer, so she got a full scholarship for college, whereas the U.S. Department of Education gets a good amount of my money each month. My mom was also married to someone nine years older than her, which I don't know that I would do at this age. She moved on her own from Wisconsin to New York after college to take a job at a newspaper where she'd been hired, sight unseen, on the recommendation of one of her journalism school professors. That's so bold, and I admire it. I only looked for jobs in the same area I went to college in because--wait for it--moving seemed like too much work. Although I was talking to a newspaper in Des Moines for a while. But that's really not the same.
But I really like where I am in life. Separate from my mom's milestones, I think adulthood means being at home in yourself, and I feel closer to that than ever. Not quite there all the way, but I do feel like life gets better and more exciting every day. I love being an active participant in it.
So, this is 26. It's been interesting so far. I had my pupils dilated this morning at an eye appointment, and on my way to work I passed a tanker truck outside a restaurant. I thought the name on the side said "BBQ Pumping," and I got really excited about the idea of a restaurant that would need that much BBQ sauce (and didn't think twice about how likely it was that I was actually looking at a steel tank of it--I just figured maybe that was a thing). But on closer inspection, it said "Boss Pumping." Ah, the joys of compromised vision. I liked what I thought I saw way better.