Saturday, April 6, 2013

Well I Guess This Is Growing Up

In the car with my roommie and another friend today, we started talking about how none of us feel like we're "real adults" yet. I had chocolate milk two nights ago at 10pm, because I'm at least living pseudo-independently and can get away with that shit. Observe:

That mug was from the school at which I worked, officially for two years after undergrad, and the four years I was earning my bachelor's. I think the image is pretty symbolic. I loved undergraduate school, and those two years working in the special education room at Green Park remain to this day the two happiest of my life. I was young, safe, and loved, was doing something I could be proud of, and I had my future ahead of me. The world was my oyster, and I had the freedom to hang out at the local coffee shop and game store, visit friends in the evenings and on weekends, call my mom whenever I wanted, and even had an okay amount of personal spending money.

But the conditions were unsustainable. The job not only paid next-to-nothing, but it also had no chance at actual advancement, just a few pay raises that it would take me over twenty years to max out on. The only reason I could afford to live in Walla Walla like that was because I was living in the basement of a family (a family I frequently feel more a part of than my own at this point, to be brutally honest), and they were charging me next-to-nothing. And let's not forget I want a family of my own- I'd never be able to live independently on the income I was making, let alone have the ability to support anyone else. My coworkers at higher paygrades than me either had spouses making bank, lived in houses owned by their parents, or were on food stamps and constantly struggling too make  it to the end of the month.

Plus, working in a school, all the men I was meeting were over twice my age and married with children. Yeah.

So I knew I'd have to jump ship, and I did. And I'm here and more miserable than I've ever been in my entire life- it's a complete 180. I have none of the freedom I used to- when I see friends, it's not nearly as relaxed as before, I never don't have work to do, I hardly ever get to call my mom, and I have no local place I can just go and chillax and unwind. But I'm here because it's stable and I don't really have any other options. Moving back to Walla Walla  (that family has offered more than once to take me in again) is a way to escape,  but I'd be stepping backward, not forward. Moving back in with my biological family would eliminate any chance I have at independence or freedom for the rest of my life. 

People grow up in different ways, in different areas of their life that can be mutually exclusive from one another. My love of chocolate milk will never fade, but I realize drinking it all the time, as much as I want to, is terrible.

The way things in my family started to spiral downward in fifth grade caused me to "grow up" in a few ways far earlier than I should have. I took on a lot of nurturing and caregiving responsibilities toward my other siblings- when Mom and Dad just couldn't do it, I'd make dinner, clean, and dress and care for the young-uns. I'd corral everyone into my room if the 'rents were fighting (I did have help from our boxer, Indiana Jones, though, heh). I provided the emotional stability and support my mom was lacking after the deaths of her mother and best (and only) friend- at both of those funerals, my older sister and mom had their heads on either of my shoulders, and I was ten for Grandma's, twelve for my mom's friend's.

Now don't get me wrong. I never felt unloved. I just took responsibility for things that needed it. I still know my mom and siblings love me as much as possible. But now that I get relief from the pressure of the responsibility when I'm away from the family, I realize how much and how heavy it actually is. 

Owning up to the reality of a situation is an adult thing to do. That's not just admitting when things are bad and need improvement- that's also admitting that however good things are, it's not good for you. That's why leaving Washington, although extremely painful, hard, and sad, was the grown-up thing to do, and why going back there would be a regression. It's grown-up of me to realize I probably need to get out of here, but I'm not sure if it's mature to wait until I have something steady on which I can rely when I leave, or if it's cowardly and immature.

Getting River may have been for slightly selfish, immature reasons (I want unconditional love, and a warm presence when I'm going to sleep and waking up), but taking her outside  before I even go to the bathroom myself in the morning because she needs to go, declining on going out in order to go home and be with her, holding her until she calms down- those are grown-up things to do. I'd be immature if I just told her to wait, or went out anyway, or just yelled for her to shut up (or, perish the thought, hit her). 

And let me pontificate about what "immaturity" really means. Because I think there's a common misconception that liking nerdy things, like video games, comics, or The Doctor, is immature. I fundamentally disagree. I don't think it's hobbies themselves that make a person immature, it's what they do with them. It may be a little socially strange to collect porcelain unicorns at age fifty, but if all they do is sit in glass cases, who is it hurting? Nobody. I play video games, but that doesn't mean I act like I'm ten (all the time- I do sometimes have the humor of a ten-year-old-boy and snortle when someone says "balls," but who doesn't?).

I think growing up is being able to see a situation from an "adult" perspective and make an "adult" decision about it. Usually, the "adult" thing to do is the hard one- not always, but often. It's the uncomfortable one.


There are always matter of the heart. I'm terrible with  those, and I never know if I'm being smart or stupid about a given emotional entanglement. whether it's romantic or platonic. And as much as I hate that about myself and wish I could change it, I can't. So I at least try to act like a grownup whenever I'm in a rough emotional situation.

But I have some decisions to make soon. About myself, about some of the people to which I'm connected, about what I want for my future, about what I need for it, for my health (emotional and physical). About what River needs. About lots of things.

But right now, I'm living in a world of privilege- I'm typing this on a new laptop with  my PS3 paused, in an apartment I share with someone I'd take a bullet for, with the love of my life asleep between my knees (snoring, the little angel), and I know when the next paycheck is coming. So hard to give that up. But is this for me? Am I really getting what I want here?

I need to figure these questions out, and answer them maturely. Then maybe I'll start feeling like a grownup.

1 comment:

  1. I love you with the passion of a million suns, gab.