Saturday night found me in a condo unit in the middle of the city, getting sloshed at a friend's bridal shower. In the middle of the drinking, stripping, dancing and laughing, it hit me. We really are growing up. The signs have been here for a while now, and even more so these past few weeks.
Factoid #1: You know you're growing up when your weekend itinerary includes baptisms, weddings and bridal showers of peole not related to you.
Someone on my high school batch's mailing list sent wedding pictures of an old classmate. It's hard to believe that people my age have successfully planned weddings when not too long ago, we were still planning our debuts. Just days later, I received a text message from an old seatmate who told me she's seven months pregnant. That baby is about to become my fourth godchild. It's hard to think of her as a mom when I still remember her as the girl who almost got kicked out of Geometry class with me for trying to memorize the lyrics of Donna Lewis' "I Love You Always Forever" instead of focusing on our polygons.
Factoid #2: You know you're growing up when you start thinking of your school days as the good old days.
When I was still in school and I would complain about it, adults would turn wistful and inevitably drop one of these lines, "I miss school. I'd love to be able to quit my job and trade places with you in a minute." "When you get out, you'd do anything to get back in." I had to resist the strong urge to give them a nice little kick and settle for rolling my eyes. Now, just months after getting my degree, I'm doing the same thing. And my brother and cousins are the ones rolling their eyes at me. Truth be told, there's strange comfort in those times when our potentially biggest problems were really comparatively small. When the biggest consequences of our actions would just be a failing grade and the worst would be being expelled from school.
Factoid #3: You know you're growing up when you and your friends start sentences with, "Do you remember when...?"
Do you remember when you cut yourself with a kitchen knife and your mom thought someone was murdered in the bathroom? Do you remember when you walked into that glass door and left an imprint of your face on it? You actualy have a history with people -- and revisiting that has become a major kick, a welcome break from your life's realities.
Factoid #4: You know you're growing up when you start acting like a condescending adult.
One night, I was out with friends when a group of adolescent girls walked past us. They were heavily made up and were scantily clad. "Jailbait," one of us said. "What are they wearing?" another one said. "They're just children!" a third one said. Or there would be times we'd be out and there would be a group of boisterous teenagers at another table. They would always be met with raised eyebrows and snide remarks, as if we were never like them before, as if we don't still act like them sometimes.
Factoid #5: You know you're growing up when adult stuff has become your stuff.
Talking to friends used to revolve mostly around favorite bands, tv shows, crushes and how strict our parents are. We still do that now -- minus the part about the strict parents -- but a lot of saliva is also wasted on discussions about work hours, security, benefits, settling down, life partners, getting ready for the future. Your friend who used to spend all his time playing video games is now starting his own business. The classmate who was a whiz in Math class is now handling real accounts. The cousin who once let her younger sister pull out her tooth is now a dentist.
Factoid #6: You know you're growing up when money becomes an issue. Goodbye, allowance, hello, anxiety.
Realizing that your parents aren't there anymore to answer your every whim, you start being more responsible about your expenses. Lapses in judgment lead to consequences that would impart a lesson or two.
Factoid #7: You know you're growing up when you realize you're harder to please.
Heaven used to be having my grandparents take me shopping for Sanrio goodies or tons of books. Then came the time when seeing a crush smile was enough to make my heart soar. Now, happiness lies elsewhere--and a lot of us haven't discovered where.
Factoid #8: You know you're growing up when you start being a source of embarassment for younger relatives.
Face it, older relatives have been the reason behind a lot of our most hideous moments as teenagers. What about the aunt who insisted on interviewing your girlfriend? Or the great-uncle who liked snapping his dentures in public? My younger cousin was buying something and I kept trying to bargain with the man. The man refused to budge but that didn't stop me. My cousin had to nudge me to shut me up. Hilarious, I thought, when I realized he thought what I had been doing was embarassing.
Factoid #9: You know you're growing up when people around you start recognizing it too.
Just last Sunday, while my masseuse was kneading my back, she said, "You can now get married." I would have protested loudly but my face was muffled by the pillow. A few lunches ago, my father turned to me and asked when I was getting married. It was hard to believe that the question came from my father who, just some years back, freaked out when he realized that the huge bar of chocolate in the fridge came from a guy who was about to become my boyfriend. Before I could even respond, he declared that he wanted a grandchild by the time he was 50. I almost choked. He's turning 50 in less than a year. Funny. Get married and have kids when I am barely out of my haphazard romances phase? People respond to growing up in two ways--there are those who embrace it and those who fight it. I still haven't decided which one I am. But then, my subconscious may have already decided for me.. While my friends are getting married, moving in together, having babies, starting their own companies, getting completely serious about their worlds and their future, I've been acting even more like a kid. I've watched "Finding Nemo" three times. I've ordered Happy Meals because I wanted the Betty Spaghetty toys. My best friend and I have been going to toy stores more often. I still read children's books--my Judy Blume's and Ronald Dahl's and Beverly Cleary's. I enjoy pestering my younger brother even more now. I went to a mini store and looked for the candies of my childhood. My cousins and I left the house at two in the morning and went to a 24-hour diner in our pajamas. Now that's not very adult-like, is that? Those are the effects of my Peter Pan Syndrome. I used to think that I would relish every step toward being an adult. After all, I have long been clamoring for freedom and independence. But now that it's staring me in the face, I find myself reluctant to jump in. There is so much to love and cherish about being young. I refuse to let that go yet. But then, I think about my grandma who, at 75, is still the epitome of coolness, who exercises every morning, wears rubber shoes, texts, is an excellent mall buddy and remains a word wizard. I look at my other set of grandparents who still date up to now. I think about my grandpa who has done so much with his life, who discovers the best places to go to even before I hear about them and is so smart he'd be my lifeline if I joined the now dead "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" And I realize there is a way to become an adult and still embrace your youth. So maybe growing up isn't so bad after all. As long as it doesn't mean having to give up my Happy Meals.Ü