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?


3 thoughts on “Grownup

  1. The answer to all of those questions is ‘Yes’! I consider myself grownup. But ask your mother about my behavior during handbell or choir practice. Just because you are grownup doesn’t mean you have to take life too seriously. I wouldn’t recommend littering like you admitted to. But, you weren’t so immature as to not consider public safety first. That shows grownup behavior. 🙂

  2. Jody, you are definitely a wonderful example of a grownup who keeps life fun. You’re right – grownup isn’t synonymous with stick in the mud! I like your thoughts.
    And I think once was enough on the whole trash episode. I’ve left those childish ways behind me 🙂

  3. You’re learning. Being a grown-up is a process that you will still be going though when you are my age. Even at my age I still do immature things. That’s part of life. At times I can still act like I am a teenager. At other times I act like I am an old, old lady that forgets too many things and has to many aches and pains. Your life will always be a learning and growing work in progress. Just enjoy every stage of your life right now and you will have good memories to look back on when you get to my age. That’s the reason older people go back and look at their pictures. It brings back good times and bad ones. Mostly good. That’s the reason I keep old and new pictures up of my grandchildren. I want to keep remembering when they were babies since they are all growing up. I enjoy your articles. Love you.

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