I’ve always been a planner – probably because of the security and control I feel in knowing what lies ahead. In fact I can’t remember a time when my Franklin wasn’t color coded and neatly divided (I tried the Palm and the Blackberry. But what can I say, I like paper and ink). There’s never been a day not filled with perfectly penned responses carefully thought out as I lay awake each night preparing for the coming day. There have even been moments when I’ve asked myself, “Krista, if such and such happened … What would you do? What would you say?” in the off chance such an event ever randomly did happen. Bottom line—I find comfort in the ability to remain poised and collected.
And so, since I plan, my adulthood was set in order way back in childhood. I had thought it all through, visualized it, written it down, and discussed it freely as though my name was Fate. I would go to college, become a high-school English teacher, get married when I was twenty-one, start having children when I was twenty-three, return to the Carolina coast and build our first home when I was twenty-five—for which I have all the color swatches, upholstery samples, furniture styles, and blue prints neatly filed—and then, finally, after working so hard to plan and accomplish, I would confidently walk up to adulthood, calmly introduce myself, and say, “I am here. I have arrived. I am now an adult.” After all that’s what adulthood is isn’t it?
Well. I’m thirty. I’m single. I have no children, and while I am a college graduate, I majored in journalism and work for a recording company in marketing. I live in Utah, and I am a renter. Please don’t misunderstand, I have a wonderful life and incredible opportunities, but somewhere along the way, adulthood tiptoed his way behind me (of course it wasn’t me who raced ahead of him), and it is he who taps me on the shoulder—every day in fact.
Despite my countless hours planning, despite my firm and adamant discussions with the future about how it was supposed to turn out, “it” didn’t listen and I don’t think I ever became an adult. It became me.
But if I was forced to pin-point a specific moment, maybe it was the morning I woke up to find a wrinkle in my smile and I raced to my nearest Mary Kay consultant to buy every anti-aging creme, serum, lotion, and spray she had in stock.
Or maybe it was the day they offered me a full-time job and I found myself diving head first into the depths of health insurance, salary bids, and dental plans. Maybe it was the day my dad handed me my taxes and said he wasn’t declaring me as a dependent nor was he filing them for me anymore. Or what about the time I went on vacation, paid for the whole thing myself, didn’t tell anyone I was leaving, and didn’t have to make sure it was OK.
Perhaps it was that hot summer day after graduating when I went looking for my first real place—you know, the non-student, unfurnished, fifty-percent chance your neighbor’s crazy housing. After my first appointment with a landlord I slowly climbed into my car, rested my head on my steering wheel, and crumbled as I watched my plans plunge into a tiny puddle on the floor, because I hadn’t thought to prepare for how it might feel to look for my first “home” … alone. I hadn’t thought to plan Plan B. Nobody told me to plan Plan B.
But then there was also that business meeting where I was the only girl surrounded by men my father’s age and I had to tell them how things were going to happen. Or it might have been the day I bought a bed, or the day I bought a couch, or the day I bought a vacuum cleaner. Surely you’re an adult when you buy your own vacuum cleaner. Or maybe it was that afternoon when I gave serious thought to retirement and staring my 401-K.
Maybe it was that time I caught a glance of myself in the rear view mirror and my breath caught in my throat because I looked so much like my mother. Maybe it was when 40 didn’t seem so old. Maybe it was the day I fell in love. Maybe it was the day he fell out of love. Maybe it was the day I finally realized he had never loved.
Who knows? But I am coming to the conclusion however, that adulthood has nothing to do with the house, the job, the husband, or even the upholstery. And it probably has nothing to do with age either. Perhaps, just maybe, it has everything to do with not knowing, knowing that you don’t know, and admitting that you don’t.
I really don’t know.