The day I figured out I was an Adult

Eight years ago on a car trip late one dark autumn evening, a friend of mine told me one of her pet peeves with our experience of American culture –

“There is no coming-of-age ritual!  How do you know you’re an adult? I mean, is it high school graduation? Your 18th birthday?  21st?  College graduation?  When is it?!”

We spent the forty-minute ride hurtling down the road and discussing this with all the confidence, indignation, and naiveté of being just-out-of-high-school ourselves.  In retrospect I look at this conversation and laugh at my young, not-quite-adult-self.  I wanted to point to a specific day, such as the Quinceanera celebrated by Latin Americans or the Coming of Age Day celebrated in Japan.  The message I received about adulthood and the different rights imbued with each birthday or educational achievement pointed to an emphasis on a gradual transition, rather than a definitive one.  Could this mean that it is up to the individual to define for themselves when they are really an adult?  If so, how do I define it, and when did I first feel like a real adult?

Fast forward from that dark car ride three years to a bright, cold, New Years Day.  With the help of my parents I was moving in my meager possessions (mostly clothes and books) to my first apartment.  A month prior I had found my first full time job, but without a place to live I had been couch surfing with friends.  I had been waking up in living rooms, spare bedrooms, and contemplating skeezy weekly rentals as a place to put my duffel bags.  At night I was feverishly searching Craigslist and networking for a place to live.

I finally found an apartment in Beverly, fully furnished, with some pleasant, albeit quirky, roommates.  After all, the ad had specified they wanted to live without a TV and have the heat kept low (How low? I wondered, and does TV-on-the-Internet count as TV??).  When I saw the place for the first time on the day of a serious winter snowstorm it looked good. Figuring that if it looked good with slush and snow, it would have to look even better every other day of the year, I happily said I would move in the first of January.

My first apartment (As you can see – It looked even better in the summer.)

As I wrote my check to the landlord that day, and later set out to wrestle with a budget for my monthly expenses, I had the epiphany, recalling that years-earlier conversation.  I was now financially solvent, out of my parent’s house, and had a place to call my own.  I could make my own habits and routines.  Even better there were no squeaky couch springs leaving an imprint on my cheek each morning.

I must be an adult.

By Beth Melillo

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4 responses to “The day I figured out I was an Adult

  1. Beth! We lived in a house, that was no apartment, and I’m glad you considered this your first place to call home as an adult. I’ll consider quirky a compliment:)

    • Definitely meant as a compliment! I guess it wasn’t quite an apartment either! You’re totally calling me out on my creative license here. 🙂 – Beth

  2. Pingback: One Year Later: Part One | Connect Shore·

  3. Pingback: Career Advice for my Younger Self | All Growing Up·

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