I want to be the kind of person who always remembers to buy someone a birthday card at least two weeks in advance, and yet manage not to lose that card before the birthday arrives. I want to do a load of laundry and not procrastinate putting it away for a week, allowing it to take up camp in the dryer until my husband evicts it when it’s time to do his own laundry. I want to be able to quickly assemble a meal plan in my head, grocery shop, and meal prep all in a single afternoon without stressing about what to do with the extra red cabbage and falling into a Pinterest spiral. I want to be able to RSVP to weddings and baby showers before the deadline, and not have to get the shameful text reminding me that the deadline has already passed while I was too busy binge-watching staged British reality shows to remember that there were actual real-life events to attend.
Adulting, (which I mainly have gleaned the definition of from what I am doing wrong), is having your shit together, doing the boring, mundane things that are necessary for you not to be a regular hot mess. It consists of paying bills on time (I know all the ones that you can get away paying up to ten days late without a late fee), keeping track of irregular charges (that yearly gym-fee that deducts forty bucks from my account, my cat’s micro-chip renewal), knowing that you have food ready for the next day (not scrambling to make it to Starbucks in-between meetings, praying that there’s a protein box left so you’re not eating lunch out of a vending machine), doing laundry before your only option for the staff meeting is an old bridesmaid’s dress, and making sure that your car has enough gas to get you to your destination (not cruising down a hill on your way to your wedding venue when your tank reads zero gallons remaining, hoping you don’t run out and have to feel your wedding makeup melt in the heat).
Bad adulting makes for hilarious stories, but it also will age the fuck out of you with all the oh shit! moments. With age has come some wisdom. I’m not calling out of work because I’m hungover from a poorly timed Whiskey-Wednesday (who puts those in the middle of the week?!), but I did request to work from home in the last month because I was going to get a tattoo and couldn’t figure out how to maneuver a professional outfit without a bra while it healed. I bought three cards in advance and managed to lose only one of them (an excellent birthday card from Trader Joe’s with two fish partying in a fishbowl – one wears sunglasses). I usually am prepared with adequate food for the day, and only occasionally am reduced to the necessity of a vending machine/food cart/three Starbucks runs in a day.
On busier days I don’t indulge in alcohol because I know that it makes me tired, but I have spent time where I should have been napping conducting a photo shoot with my cats (who were incidentally, napping). I’ll stay up hours past when I should have gone to bed if I’m inspired to write, but if my laundry has to be put away and it’s after 9:30pm, I’ll leave it the next evening – or next week if I’ve missed my window. I can work from 7:30am – 1:30am at my office job followed by my bartending job in the same weekday, but if someone makes me get up before 8am on a Saturday to go to breakfast I’ll be in a sulky mood. If I’m creating, I can focus on a project for hours on end, but if I need to draft a short email for work I can’t sit still for more than five minutes.
I keep wondering if one day I’ll be the kind of person who will very rarely experience an oh shit! moment, who will have the basics of being an adult down. I wonder if I am too much of a dreamer to focus on the concrete to-do lists of everyday life, if my brain drifting to a story I’m writing or a project I’m developing is just too appealing to resist. If it’s a tradeoff, if I have to give up one in order to be better at the other, I’m more than fine with continuing to fail at adulting. Because with creating, there’s also oh shit! moments, the moments when things connect and make sense, and you know exactly where to take a story or painting – and those are more than worth every single oh shit! I’m out of coffee and have five meetings! moments.