There is something about living at home again after many years away that has a time-warping, potentially stunting affect on forward motion. When the reality of another year under under my parents' roof and in their generous/gracious care started to settle in, I set about to guard against the strange gravity of my high school self by making an important list. Feels like a good time to share.
Five Ways to Be an Adult
1 • Listen to CBC Radio. It all began with my authorial hero, Stuart McLean and his brilliant and heart-warming stories about Dave and Morley and Sam and Stephanie... but now, as an avid listener of "Q" (with Jian Ghomeshi), "The Debaters," "The Irrelevant Show," the news and an occasional program or interview in French, I feel more connected to the world around me. I have learned a great deal about Canadian politics, the oil industry's plan for new pipelines and how a city in Texas is adding sugar to their water at the source. Okay, so the last one was a joke that I got sucked into believing. For the record, everyone, "This Is [Not] That." Check.
2 • Drink a lot of tea. Without conducting any formal study (no unsolicited surveys were forced upon anyone during the drawing of this conclusion), it has become rather clear that the majority of adults do not drink hot chocolate on a daily basis. On a cold, wintery evening all curled up inside after a long day playing in the snow? I don't think anyone would sniff with derision at a steaming cup of cocoa... but as a matter of routine, most lean towards something steeped or brewed. Having already definitively proven that coffee is disgusting, tea became my beverage of choice. Green tea, no milk, no sugar, piping hot or ice-cold. Check.
3 • Write everything in cursive. When I was in the eighth grade, my French teacher (Mme Norris, I believe) explained to my class that once we made it to high school, no respectable authority would accept a hand-printed essay. She insisted that cursive writing was the universal professional rule. But you know what the rule was in high school? Times New Roman, 12 size font, double spaced. I gave up on joined-up letters until part way through university when I took a good, long look at a letter my mother had mailed me. In a whimsical mood, I spent a few days attempting to mimic her smooth, womanly hand. It was illegible. And embarrassing. Over the last four years I have found the best pens ever (RSVPs, ultra-thin ink flow, amazing) and after much tedious practice, I have a ribbony font all my own. Check.
4 • Go to sleep on the same day I wake up. There are a few days a month that I break it (mostly when I'm trying to talk to Australia), but more often than not I have learned my lesson on this one. Sleep is healthy, and mornings are nice - especially now that the sun is rising so early! There's an encouraging rhyme that I remember from when I was little: "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise." I have no idea if this will ever prove true, or even if it works for women, but it sure sounds good, right? Yes it does. Check.
5 • Befriend my elders. Probably the most important lesson I've learned this year. Old people are awesome. And smart. And funny. And generous with storytelling. They are encouraging of big dreams and minor accomplishments and the learning of all sorts of things. They have experienced things I will never be able to, and hearing about their lives reminds me that, while I am becoming an adult I am still young. I have so much ahead of me, Lord willing. Things to do, people to meet, places to see, moments to capture. As I build true friendships with these living antiques I am absorbing so much love. They are teaching me, and they are letting me teach them.
Maybe one day I will write a blog called, "Senior's Discount, Here I Come." When I get to that stage in my life, I hope that I will look like the ladies in my weekly study who carry around hundred-year-old Bibles, talk about the weather report, drink their tea, go to bed at eight and sign their names with flawless penmanship. I hope I find myself a man who, when he too has yellowed and wrinkled with age, will take my hand in his as we clamber into the elevator because we're both too rickety to take the stairs. I pray for the endurance of affection that I see in my wise old friends every week.
But, in the meantime, I'm going to go down the stairs with the leaping abandon of youth, two at a time, and make myself a tea. Growing up by baby-steps. Check.