We haven’t been able to use my house’s back door for two days, ever since I broke it during a stressful video shoot for work that ran until midnight. This means that my roommate and I can only use the front door until I can get to the hardware store and set aside time to install a new handle and lock. Normally this would only be a medium-sized inconvenience, but not this week. This week Benito, the cat we just adopted, is lying in wait on the other side of that door, waiting to pounce on our heads and bounce away forever. Also waiting behind the front door: the awful, awful stench that Benito brought into our home with him. (Thanks, testosterone!)
Winston is huddling somewhere in the back of the house, shivering because he’s afraid of Benito and because the rooms are drafty and I haven’t arranged for a plumber to install a heater back there. It’s cold — it’s been raining for five days, and that means that the basement is flooding and growing mold, the smell of which is mingling with the smell of the new cat. That brings us back to the front door. The one I’m desperately trying not to run through without ever looking back.
This is adulthood. There was a time when I wondered how I would know it had happened to me, but I recognize it now. I know what it is because it sucks.
Don’t get me wrong — there are benefits to being a grownup.
The Perks of Being an Adult
1. I can do whatever I want. On Sunday night, my roommate said, “I found this super cute cat! Can we keep it?” and I said, “Yeah! Because we’re adults!” (But then I started thinking about where I could find a vet on Sunday evening, and how much that would cost me, and how Winston would adjust, and what we’d do with them over Thanksgiving. Pretty soon I was freaking out.)
2. I can stay up as late as I want. (Which is like, 9:30 most nights, because I have work in the morning and oh god my pajamas look so good.)
3. I can eat whatever I want. (Only not really. I’m pretty sure I can physically feel my metabolism slowing down and I don’t always have the time or motivation to go to the gym.)
4. I don’t have to answer to anyone. (Except my boss. And my boss’ boss. And his boss. Oh, and the bank, the utility companies, and my own conscience.)
Actually, being a grownup is not that great. The really messed up thing about responsibility is that the more you have, the more stressful it is. When you handle your current responsibilities well, how are you rewarded? With more responsibilities.
“You did so well,” Life says. “I got you something! It’s a spouse to worry about! And a job supervising other yahoos! And a kid! Good luck with this brand new human. Don’t mess it up.” Life! Don’t you know that most days it is all I can do to go to work, feed my cats, and run the dishwasher? STOP HANDING ME STUFF.
Sometimes I feel like I have a handle on things, but I think it’s the same feeling I would have if I fell off a cliff but managed to cling to a weak root on the way down. Like if I wanted to stop dealing with adulthood responsibilities and the stress that comes with them, I could. All I’d have to do is let go.
I could just stop paying bills and stop caring about things like my broken door. I could stop using doors at all! I could train Winston and Benito to hunt for food for all of us and we could leave through a window and disappear into the forest, living off songbirds and field mice. It sounds nice.
Then I take a step back and look at Winston and Benny, who are presently rolling around on the floor in a spitting ball of cat rage. Who am I kidding? We’d never make it in the forest. One of us would pick a fight with a mountain lion and we’d all be puma scat by the end of our first night.
So I shrug and get back to my ever-growing to-do list. I’ve found a new way to deal with it. Hello, regression!
Problems and Proposed Solutions
Problem #1: Work is stressful and requires long hours lately!
Solution #1: Go to work, but when you get home, watch everything Cartoon Network has on Netflix while shoveling handfuls of Cap’n Crunch in your mouth. You’ll feel better, trust me.
Problem #2: The roofer you hired needs your insurance paperwork!
Solution #2: Mail the paperwork and buy a ton of candy while you’re out. Just too much candy. An inhuman amount of candy. Eat some of it.
Problem #3: Your long-distance boyfriend is wrapping up school and will be moving soon. Closer to you? Closer to a new job? What happens next? Why do all of the options stress you out? These things need to be discussed!
Solution #3: Build a blanket fort. Discuss it from inside the fort, but make him stay on the outside because he doesn’t know the password. Nothing bad can happen in a blanket fort.
Problem #4: You’re out of groceries!
Solution #4: Put off a trip to the store by eating more of that candy.
Problem #5: Some stupid part of your brain insists you write a blog post on a night you really didn’t want to write one.
Solution #5: Write it, but write it inside your blanket fort. While eating candy.