Acting Like a Grownup

It says something about the pervasive inclination of our culture toward youth that I am now 35 years old yet still occasionally surprised when I do “adult” things. Case in point: We’re refinancing the mortgage on our Virgina property. This will accomplish a number of things: because the value of the property has gone up, it’ll rid us of the need for private mortgage insurance; it will lower our monthly mortgage payment on the house; and it’ll get my uncle off the mortgage, my uncle having very graciously co-signed on the mortgage back in 1998 because I had just become a freelancer, and the bank wanted the mortgage backed by someone with an actual job (never mind that I was making more than my uncle at the time). And as a practical matter it will allow us to tweak more income out of the house without royally screwing our renters, who are a very nice couple that we like quite a bit. In all, a good outcome for everyone.

But as Krissy and I were talking about it, it occurred to me: A re-fi. On rental property. We’re landlords, for God’s sake. And then you get that moment of cognitive dissonance that comes from knowing that a few short years ago (actually not a few short years ago, more like 15 years ago, but it feels closer), you were driving your drunk friend’s car down a San Diego road on the way to go bowling, playing a game called “Don’t Fuck,” in which one of your drunk friends tried to cover your eyes while you were driving, and your only defense was to yell “don’t fuck!” as loud as you could.

And you weren’t driving drunk, but then, given that drunk people were climbing over themselves in the back seat trying to obscure your vision, it wasn’t all that much better. And you reflect that someone who would willingly play a game that stupid probably shouldn’t have been given a mortgage in the first place. And then you also remember that the drunk friends in the back seat are now a doctor and a software executive, respectively, and you all have kids. Yup, that’s a sobering moment, no pun intended.

No, I’m not getting nostalgic for stupid driving games (Krissy had a driving game that was far more worse than “Don’t Fuck” — so terrifyingly stupid and dangerous, in fact, that I won’t even write about it for fear that my own child may one day stumble upon these archives and attempt to play it herself. Suffice to say, it’s a miracle Krissy’s alive and has all of her skin intact). I’m simply saying that the person who did the stupid driving games and the person refinancing the mortgage on his rental property don’t feel that far removed from each other.

The older I get, the more I suspect that that occasional feeling of “who thought it was a good idea to make me an adult?” never actually goes away. My first real inkling of this idea occurred in college, when a good friend who was a decade older started grousing about her dating problems, which sounded rather disturbingly like my dating problems (no, we never dated each other); I said to her “so, it never really does get any better, does it?” and she allowed that it didn’t, although now the both of us are happily married to our respective partners, so we could have been wrong. The larger point of age not necessarily or uniformly imparting wisdom and/or serenity, however, remains true.

I don’t want to go back to being young. The fact is, I like being an adult, and generally speaking I’m very comfortable with it. I also like being a parent and being one of two default grown-ups for Athena; between me and Krissy, I think she’s got pretty decent role models. Being young was fun, but being an adult is fun, too; more fun, in fact (mostly — refinancing a mortgage isn’t fun, you know, but the results are nice).

Thing is, you eventually realize that there really isn’t a moment when you stop feeling young and start feeling adult. You’re just always you. And that’s oddly comforting, despite the occasional moments of cognitive dissonance.

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