Meredith C. Carroll: Meredith Pro Tem
May 29, 2012
I think I thought that getting married would have necessarily turned me into an adult if I weren’t one before walking down the aisle. Maybe it’s actually immature to think that dressing up like a virginal princess in an effort to demand all eyes on me for a day would make me more and not less mature. Regardless, buying a house and a car and giving birth to a couple of kids afterward should have been sound indicators that I am, in fact, a grown-up.
But as it turns out, I didn’t actually realize that I’d fully crossed the threshold from girl to woman until Sunday night. While watching HBO’s new series “Girls,” perhaps for the first time ever it occurred to me that one of these things is not like the other. As in, I am not like these girls who are just a few years out of college. (Yes, the “Girls” girls are fictional, but there are undoubtedly plenty of real equivalents out there.)
Despite the fact that I’ve been out of college for well over a decade, I still feel like I’ve been inexplicably stalled on not a few emotional levels. Sure, I regularly do all sorts of adult things, like work for a living, attend 40th-birthday parties for friends, play mahjong, pick up my older daughter from preschool, nurse my baby daughter and shop for things like nonstick aluminum foil and dental toothpicks at places like Costco, but often I’m looking around to see if it seems like anyone else feels like they’re playing the part of a grown-up, too.
Like, I wonder if other people are also kind of giggling to themselves at how they’re fooling everyone into thinking they’re as together as they appear. It’s not in a bad way. I adore my life and family. But I’m just not sure when my doughy transition from lost college graduate rose and baked into my life as a responsible adult with a specific direction.
As my husband and I sat on the couch playing Scrabble over the weekend, I remarked for no fewer than the seventh time over the course of two days about how much better our backyard looks when the lawn is mowed (which might actually just make me boring if not necessarily an adult). I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else, with anyone else, doing anything else. Especially, say, at a crowded warehouse party in Brooklyn where people were accidentally smoking crack like in the most recent episode of “Girls” (partly because when I lived in Manhattan and made the occasional trip out to Brooklyn, I always made sure to tell someone where I was headed in case something sinister happened and I didn’t return).
Part of the appeal of watching certain shows is imagining myself as one of the players. Like, I watch “Bethenny Ever After” and pretend it was, in fact, me who parlayed a watered-down margarita into a custom Tribeca loft. Or that I’m Liz Lemon of “30 Rock” except I command more respect from my staff and am in possession of fewer pairs of grey panties.
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I never quite related to the “Sex and the City” ladies, HBO’s “Girls” predecessors, because they always seemed so much sadder and older (or more sophisticated?). And now that I’m around the age they were when the show was first on the air (except for Samantha, who even all these years later is still older than I’ve ever been), I still can’t picture myself in their uncomfortable stilettos.
Watching “Girls” makes me not imagine myself as one of them (although, believe me, there have been eerily familiar moments in each episode), but my daughters instead (even though I’m not nearly old enough to be one of their moms). I cringe and feel my heart break as I think of my daughters acting the parts of the “Girls” girls, barely holding down jobs and eking out rent money while their emotional lives are crazily in need of Krazy Glue.
That tells me something. Like, that I’m putting others before me, which must be a sign of maturity, or at least that I’m not a narcissist (although perhaps assuming that every fictional character has something to do with me means I’ve even more of an egomaniac than I ever realized. Either way).
It seems like adulthood happened somewhere between my mid-20s and now without me noticing, and I literally woke to find myself transformed into a full-grown woman (although it’s probably more accurate to call me the tween version of a woman – like, a twoman – because I have yet to start carrying a purse).
Still, being a twoman is not a bad place to be if it means I can really appreciate the sight of a freshly mowed lawn. And as far as I can tell, it’s certainly preferable to hanging out at a certain warehouse in Brooklyn.
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