An adult, eh? As a teen you can’t wait to be grown. To have a career, house, love, responsibilities and respect but when those things come with a huge price that your *NSYNC obsessed brain didn’t account for, it’s almightily shit.
I write this on the bus to the hospital. It’ll be my 47th visit to an emergency room and my 2nd visit to intensive care. Not for myself fortunately but as the next of kin of a relative. Before it was my Mother. Now her remaining sister. The woman who looked after me as a young baby when my own mother couldn’t.
Sometimes there were daily trips to see my Mum in a hospital bed, with the neon lights that burn memories into your skull and the stench of hospital food lingering in your nostrils so that you never un-smell it.
Until that last trip to the hospital where we left without her.
You sometimes think, after a tough time, that you’ve done enough adulting for a while. That an adultier adult will step in and take the responsibility that your often-12-Year-old brain can’t handle any more. Until you realise that you’re the only ones left. Sometimes out of death and sometimes out of the neglect and uselessness of those other actual adults around you.
When you’re the only adult left you’re left with responsibilities that you thought you wanted as a teen but now you realise what being a grown up entails, you’d rather leave behind.
Illness is a responsibility that you never imagine you’ll have. You always imagine that someone will be there to drown you in Calpol and fill up your water bottle. But as an adult it’s all on you. If you don’t take your tablets or make your appointments, there’s no one looking after you to help you out.
Illness of relatives is another. If you’re the next generation that they assisted in bringing up, it’s the circle of life that you’re the ones assisting them as they leave this world or as they find it harder to navigate.
And what about money? Gone are the days of an allowance. Not that I ever had much of one of those. But adults need to handle their own business. And if you’re as reckless with money as you are around pizza then that’s another sharp lesson you have to learn.
Finally relationships. When your adult isn’t there to gush to about the incredible new person in your life. When there’s not an adult to tell you to stop falling head over heels and get a check on yourself. When she doesn’t hang up the phone with, ‘he sounds nice Vick, let’s hope he doesn’t fuck off,’ then who is there to give you the adult advice?
Being an adult is nights out, alcohol, sex, freedom, earning, holidays and independence but being an adult is also being next of kin, debt, lack of energy, taking care of yourself and watching out for you alone when no one is there any more to take the reigns.