When do we become adults? It’s a tricky question to pin down. Certain countries say we’re grown up at 21, others at 18, and some at any age when we’re able to pick up a gun and shoot someone. When you’re younger you imagine growing up to happen like a metamorphosis. That when you turn 18, ship off to university, you will, while you’re there, crawl into a cocoon before graduation and then as you’re picking up your diploma, emerge a fully formed adult. Magically you will then be able to do things like understand what a tax bracket is, know what to do with a P60, get a mortgage, and like the three wise men, follow some star across the country and find your ideal job just waiting happily for you in a barn somewhere near Leister.
Of course, anyone who’s on the verge of graduating from university (eg. Myself) will tell you that this is not the case. I wish it were – by GOD do I wish that it was. But it isn’t.
Growing up doesn’t just happen overnight, it’s something that you grow into. And maybe you don’t do it all right away, maybe even after moving out of your family home, you’ll take years, maybe even DECADES to become a fully functioning adult. Hell, maybe you won’t ever feel that you’re a grown-up, maybe that’s alright. But in my experience, there comes a point when you look around at your surroundings, then look at yourself and think: fuck, is this what my parents had to go through? Fuck am I an adult?
My shot of adulthood, which unfortunately didn’t actually come in a shot glass with a wedge of lime, was served up to me because of the jolly holidays. With it getting close to Christmas time, I have been abandoned as my friends return home to like, ‘spend time with their families’ and like, ‘get their washing done’. So for seven days, as I wait for my boyfriend to return from skiing and give me the love Mommy and Daddy didn’t, I’ve been forced to live alone.
Like alone, alone. No one in the house. No one in my friend’s houses to escape to. Just me.
Now normally I would be cool with this because I live my life like a Destiny Child song – I’m an independent woman. But a spanner was thrown into the works, when, after leaving my last remaining friend’s house at 1am, I strolled home to find a man in my street.
Not just any man – a youth. A skin headed youth, in a hoodie, riding a BMX.
Obviously, desperately trying to be middle-class, I was horrified. But again, trying to be middle-class I couldn’t do what my deeply buried working-class side of me wanted, which was to put my key between my knuckles and give him a stare down. No, I merely looked at my feet and kept walking. Maybe what the DailyMail keeps telling me is wrong, and that hoodie needn’t be an enemy but a friend.
Then he started to look inside other people’s cars. And then over their fences.
At this point I can’t deny I was a little disappointed. Here I was, trying to see the best in this youth, trying not to assume the worst. Maybe he just liked solo-cycles at 1am, maybe he was a vampire who liked pulling BMX tricks. But there he was, eyeing up the next car window to smash; I’m not going to say I was angry… just disappointed.
(Also, a little insulted that he perceived me as such a small threat that he felt comfortable enough to openly scout shit to steal in front of me. Hey man, I go for a jog bi-monthly, I could kick your butt… maybe.)
But my anger and disappointment aside, the first thing that I wanted to do in this situation was get inside my house. Then I realised, holy fuck, my house is empty. If there’s strength in numbers, then surely there’s weakness in going solo. Suddenly all the perks of turning my wanking music up to full blast where void at the possibilities of having to fight of a youth – A FUCKING YOUTH!
Naturally there was only one thing to do – call the police.
I can’t deny it, picking up that phone and dialling 999 (okay, 101 cause, like, okay it wasn’t an emergency – yet) I never felt so grown-up. So bloody middle-class, as I described a ‘bald, twenty something, in a black hoodie, riding one of those BMX things… like it’s a bike, but you wouldn’t use it on a nature trail.’
Yes this was definitely one of the moments that will be marked down in my John Lewis scrapbook, as I sit back with my cookies and chocolate milk, nervously eyeing the bolted, chained, double locked front door, praying to God that this youth hasn’t told the other youth that I ratted him out to ‘the fuzz’ and is at this moment planning of cutting off the neighbourhood’s cat’s head off and leaving it on my pillow.
Christ, isn’t being an adult amazing?