A joke that my dad loves to tell goes like this: “Around here, you know three days prior that you’ll get a visitor.” It’s meant to be funny because the landscape is as flat as my chest, which is very, and that’s why my brothers and I call the downhill slope leading to our house “The Mountain”.
A thing that I’ve been doing ever since I can remember is running down The Mountain whenever I walk home from somewhere. It sounds tiring, but I only go anywhere on foot like once a month, so I can handle it. At first, it just felt awesome to fly down the hill and run into my mum’s arms (think stock photos of annoyingly happy families). I don’t know when that changed, but it must have been somewhere between me developing a taste in music and getting my adult sized bike. But at some point, I started running down that damned slope just for the sake of running down that damned slope.
Over the last few years, though, I’ve developed the mindset that If I Stop Running Down That Hill And Looking Like An Idiot While Doing So Then I’ll Be A Boring Soulless Adult Who Doesn’t Dare To Have Fun Anymore. Basically, I’ve been afraid of becoming that adult in kid’s shows who’s always complaining about how loud the children are being.
Actually, I think that the media trains us to loath growing up. The first thing that came to my mind was a chapter of Pippi Longstocking in which the kids took pills (which were actually peas) that Pippi promised would keep them from growing up. Kind of questionable in terms of what it teaches children, if you ask me. “Matilda” is also a good example, even though I think the shitty adults in that movie are meant to be a lesson not to become a shitty adult rather than not to grow up at all.
And then there’s the 1985 film “The Breakfast Club“. Being the Cool Alternative Teenager Who Knew All Of The Old Movies that I was, I’ve obviously seen it. To be honest, when “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” is on the radio I still like to ask whoever’s around if they know which movie made the song popular because basically nobody around here knows and I like to be the special snowflake who does.
Anyway, there are two quotes from the film that I loved: “Well, everyone’s home life is unsatisfying. If it wasn’t, people would live with their parents forever,” as well as:
Let’s just ignore that first one and talk about the latter for a second, shall we?
I’ve noticed that the older I get, the less I can relate to this quote. I feel pretty grownup by now; not the pays-taxes-and-writes-emails-on-time type of grownup, but the I-guess-I-could-survive-on-ramen-noodles-and-takeout-if-I-moved-out-now type. And, honestly, I really love it. I’m not even someone who thrives on being independent. Actually, I’m a big Mama’s Girl.
Maybe because of this, I’ve spent so many damn years worrying about how I’ll have to get my own groceries at some point. I hate getting groceries. The thing is that one of the biggest accomplishments I’ve made in my early teen years was how I can now ask retail workers about whatever I’m searching for instead of wandering around the store for an hour! So practical!
So what I’ve been thinking about is this: Maybe it’s because growing up is hard as fuck to do for me, but I just think it’s amazing. I never knew how proud I would feel that I do all the calls to my orthodontist by myself until now. Spoiler alert: I feel pretty damn proud. It just makes me think that I’m ready to embrace the weirdness and boredom of growing up now, even if it involves getting groceries. But if being able to survive on my own is going to feel even nearly as good as I’m imagining it, then I might just be able to tolerate the loss of my heart. Because you know why we grow up? Because our old selves become unsatisfying. (Remember that first quote?)
All these words and all I’ve wanted to say is that I don’t run down The Mountain anymore when I don’t feel like it. But it’s OK, because last week I’ve driven it down with our car for the first time in my life, and I’ve never felt so damn proud.