At the year-end holiday party Monday night, I sat by the editor. He told stories; everyone laughed. The fountain trickled in the background, and servers murmured “would you like a buffalo chicken spring roll?” by my shoulder. My coworkers sipped wine. I sipped a Coke with ice in a goblet.
I accidentally wore jeans – I didn’t go to work that day (my internship had ended). Gina had a dress, and Jamie teetered in high heels.
It was a grownup experience, one of many these last four months in Philadelphia.
When I think of the word “grownup,” I think of smart, sophisticated, solemn adults with glasses. They have black pumps and lip stick tubes and gold watches.
In a city context, a grownup is many things. He or she is a happy hour connoisseur, a workplace holiday party attender.
Grownups know things – what the thermostat should be set to in winter, where you can buy a stamp when the post office is closed, how to plan a dinner party.
A grownup is capable and reliable.
The question I’d like to answer is this: I’m 20. I’m an adult. But am I a grownup?
Did living in Philadelphia make me a grownup?
The Free Dictionary says adult and grownup are synonymous. But it also tells me a grownup is one who is “a fully developed person from maturity onward.”
I did a lot of grownup things this semester. Rented an apartment, dealt with a landlord, dealt with mice. I worked 32 hours a week at a newspaper. Hosted friends from out of town. Traveled without parents to big cities. Navigated the subway, the train, and the bus.
Like a grownup, I knew things; I was privy to the inside metropolitan world of the “native,” and this alone made me feel grownup. I knew the sights, the smells, the sounds. Knew where to go for a good Chinese dinner or what time of day to avoid SuperFresh.
I attended a holiday party for work, knew what to set the thermostat to in winter, bought a stamp (not at the post office), planned a dinner party.
And then other memories come to mind that aren’t so grownup. Like last night – trash night in Chinatown. What came over me when I agreed, to the giggling urging of my housemates, to hurl the trash bag over our third-floor balcony onto the street below? (There was no one around, don’t worry!) I watched the bag plop to the sidewalk, heard my friends howl with laughter, and thought Oh boy, that was really immature.
And just yesterday, when Jackie and I sang all the way walking home from the center. Loud. Maybe with some dance moves thrown in. Definitely not grownup of us.
Do grownups stand on the couch when a mouse runs in the room? Do grownups make cookies at 10 pm and watch two episodes of Gossip Girl in a row?
Do grownups wear jeans to fancy work parties?