It was only two summers ago that I tasted the revered and aspired feeling of adulthood in ones “youthful years.” It was a significant moment, but I was curious why I wasn’t struck with the notion several years ago, because, my goodness, I was already in my late thirties when it happened. I’m sure some people are struck by the notion earlier in their adult life and maybe I should have felt all grown up when I received my first salaried paycheck out of college, or when I got married, or when I had my first child, or my second for that matter, or when my husband and I bought our first condo. No it wasn’t any of those life milestones that awakened me to that fact I really was a grown adult and now required to be responsible and calculating. That moment was when we bought our first car together.
I had driven around my two-door, dark, green car for ten years. I bought it a month before I met my then future husband and drove it around while a single and eligible gal and then as a girl who had a boyfriend. We drove away in it to our first night as a married couple. It was our only car for several years and my husband and I carpooled in it for five years until his job took him too far away for carpooling convenience. I had one baby car seat and not too long later a car seat and a booster in the back and managed to get around the two-door, flip the front seat forward, bend around the car, peer in at my child, and perform the “pull out child” acrobatic move; a back-breaking job. After ten years and 120,000 miles and a six and three-year-old, it was time to sell it. We drove our car to the dealership. It coughed and moaned as we drove up, and we knew that not even the dealership wanted to take the car. The breaks squeaked; the back light was out; the front light was out; the night light in the odometer was out. The seats were stained. The window shield had a crack in it that plunged from the top to the bottom of the glass. We had taped the radio to the dash board so it wouldn’t pop out, but had to give it pressure with our fingers to hear any music. After years of parking under the direct sun, the outside paint job had a blotchy undetermined color. When we performed our final cleaning-out car ritual before handing the keys to the salesmen, we were repulsed with a terrible odor. We pulled the baby car and booster seats out and something dripped all over the back seat. It was something so unidentifiable in appearance and the smell was so retched we had to turn away. It was years of neglect. It was years of use and daily living. It was all of the kids’ juice and food spillage combined into one terrible stench. We turned from our ten-year old dumpy car and handed the key over, relieved to finally get rid of it and turned to the new one.
Our new car was flawless and it was all ours, bought with our hard earned cash. We slid into the leather seats, listened to at least fifty different radio stations, rotated our six CD changer, and the biggest event was opening the back doors to let our children climb into their seats. We drove home finally feeling like adults. That was the moment. Our run-down car had reminded us of our youth. Driving out in a brand new car, all shiny and smelling of new leather with our two kids in the back and our names on the pink sheets. This is what it felt like to be an adult. Or was it?
What significant moment made you realize you were an adult?