Today, I hosted my parents for a meal, in my own home, around a table, with cloth napkins. (Granted, there were only three cloth napkins for five people, but I am still building my collection.) This, more than either of my two degrees or my financial mostly-independence (I swear, I will eventually take over my car insurance payment), is the mark of my entrance into adulthood. My parents complimented me on my home–on the table that Brian and I built, the furniture that we arranged, the art we have chosen to decorate our walls. My father drew a drunken goose on the whiteboard in the living room, underneath my previous sketch of a goose holding a pint. They raved over the food–crepes with roasted vegetables and chicken, spicy glazed beets, and rustic rhubarb tarts.
We spread caramelized rhubarb jam across our crepes, dolloped them with Greek yogurt, and relished in each other’s company. Zack was unseasonably dapper in his light blue shirt–we drank iced tea and laughed. It was a great afternoon: I sat on the couch with my mother as we flipped through a whole grain baking cookbook, and then we visited my favorite greenhouse where I purchased herbs like the herb addict I am. (Greenhouses are like crackhouses, but I somehow doubt that crackheads ever look at their purchases and think, “What in the world am I going to do with all this crack?”, while this absolutely happened to me as I pulled the flat of lemon balm, chives, mint, and basil from the car.) I showed my parents the sad ruins of my garden, which had taken hard knocks in the hail storm (though I feel it was the power line that feel on the beans that probably finished them off).
My father spoke words of optimism about the squash, already putting on new leaves to replace the verdant canopy that had been perforated by last week’s misfortune. He thinks they will be just fine. My mother diagnosed my tomatoes with spider mites, and they both made suggestions as to what exactly I could do about that that did not involve either lighting the plant on fire, watering it with milk (my favorite remedy for tomato ailments!) or dousing it with unholy chemicals (something at odds with its location in a rather hippie-dippie organic community garden).
It was a perfect day.
If it is a parent’s job to see their children happy and capable through to adulthood, then my parents have done a fine job. I may not have communicated this to my father today, but I feel that the life I am leading is a tribute to his parenting. Maybe this isn’t a very good father’s day present, but I hope he feels that my life, full of friends and fun and good work, is a gift to him. (Maybe I should just have bought him a couple of beers or a tie.) I love you, Daddy.
While I have moments of envy when I think of Zack and Mark heading off for their grand new adventures in far-away places, I realize that I am happy with my life here. Even with the weather being so hot that the arterial spray of my enemies is cooler than the ambient temperature, I am content. My days are so full that I scarcely have time to record my exploits. I make good food and new friends, and my life has fallen into a soothing rhythm that is warmed by the sunshine and accompanied by crickets and the roar of air conditioners. It is good.
Still, there are things I feel that have been left out of the manual of how to be a responsible adult. Making a budget and maintaining savings I can manage. I can disassemble a garbage disposal, repair it, reassemble it and return it to its place under the sink. I can install faucets and change my oil, fold laundry, get to work on time, garden (sorta), cook, and sew.
But I think there are some hidden secrets I have not yet uncovered, some things that no one has told me. They are the secret handshakes of real adulthood. How, for instance, does one fold a fitted sheet? And is there some sort of routine maintenance that I must exact upon my washing machine in order to prevent it from applying wee balls of white lint to every article of clothing I own? And how does one get rid of spider mites in an organic garden without torching the whole thing? And how do you French braid hair, anyway?
Fortunately, while I wait to uncover these tidbits of knowledge, I have Google. (Google: enabling people like me to impersonate Real Adults since 1998.)