This is 26

“I just wish someone would tell me, like, this is how the rest of your life should look!” – Marnie, GIRLS

“Adulthood” is such a funny thing, isn’t it? It’s like we’re 18 and glowy in that way that only those who haven’t spent time under the fluorescent lights of an office can still be – long legged and big dreamy goals, armed with statement pieces like “I’m going to be a lawyer” or “I’m going to be a writer”. We’re confident enough to spew those things like catch phrases but young enough to know it doesn’t really matter what we say, there is still so much time, still so much unknown. We can do anything. And, we can still eat anything. Life is good. It’s always been good. Then suddenly, we’re mid twenties. It goes by quicker than a half hour sitcom with no commercials. It’s still good. Life, I mean. Life is still really, really good. It’s a different good. We’re exploring complex relationships, we’re learning to be spouses or dependable providers, we’re taking a bizarre interest in things like insurance and indoor plants. We’re a little less glowy and little less dreamy, and we’ve attached ourselves to phrases like “Well this job has incredible benefits, so”. We’re realizing that sometimes our jobs pay our bills and our side hustles fill our hearts. We’re settling into the idea that we’re growing up, shit, we’re grown up. And yet, if I had a nickle for every time I looked around and thought there must be some other adult present, that I cannot simply be the one in charge..let’s just say I’d never have to be under another florescent light again. Some of us are saving to buy a house, while others are already moving into the having kids on purpose stage. What a time to be alive.

I distinctly remember when family members around me reached their ‘mid twenties’. Being the ever confident baby of the family, I was so sure that my mid twenties would look so much better than theirs, so much more together, so much more adult. Spoiler alert – it did and does, but that’s because the bar was set super low by a few around me. HA. Ok, in the spirit of being fully vulnerable and transparent – sometimes I have a momentary freak out about what my 26 looks like. I often find myself frantically comparing mine to those around me, wondering if I’ve met all of the big milestones appropriate for my age. Some days I am sure that we’re leaps and bounds ahead of the curve – bills are paid, meals are prepped, fridge is full of overpriced produce, dogs are happy and healthy, husband and I are in love and rock at communicating, job is steady, family is proud, house is together, laundry is done. Find me on those days and I’m practically skipping to my workout class after a perfectly productive day of work. That kind of sorcery usually lasts about 48 hours and then comes crashing down around me with a skipped Soul Cycle class and a dinner of delivery pizza that the husband and I scarf on the floor like animals, while our actual animals sleep upside down on our couch. Like yesterday…

Yesterday I was flying high – work had flown by in a flurry of legal holds and out of office responses, summer still in peak form here at the college. I had my favorite instructor’s Soul Cycle class scheduled, and while some predator had managed to snag bike 42 (my go to – directly in front of the instructor but 2nd row because I’m not a sociopath) I was still looking forward to sweating it out for 45 blissful minutes. The sun was shining, I had the windows down and Pandora was making that commute home it’s bitch. Every song was pure gold. I pulled up to our little house practically skipping. I scooped up my endless stream of Amazon packages awaiting me on the front porch, opened our french doors and….shit. Actual shit. Dog shit, to be exact. On my feet. And to my horror, everywhere else…all over the living room. Now let me tell you, this is a shocking sight to someone who pays for two different dog walkers to come on different cycles throughout the day. It was doubly shocking as we are the kind of people that literally spend a small fortune on special dog food, probiotics, senior pet vitamins, etc. I quickly assessed the damage like I can only imagine one does in the presence of actual carnage and briefly debated burning the entire house to the ground. I thought better of it, thankfully. I got busy cleaning, disinfecting, scrubbing, and occasionally cursing while attempting to soothingly assure my two dogs that it was nooo big deal, happens to the best of us. Speaking as someone with a weak stomach but literally zero food discretion, I can relate (ish). After stuffing two trash bags completely with Lysol wipes and paper towels, I stood back confidently looking at my now gleaming floor. No shit spot in sight. Shit. The time! In my attempt to get my house back to hospital operating room cleanliness, I had sailed right through my usual “prep for Soul Cycle time” and beyond that, in fact, class had started three minutes ago. Alrighty then. Goodbye 30 dollars. Perfect. Fine, fine, fine. I made a mental note to profusely apologize and sheepishly bring cookies to my next class, sugar always says “I’m sorry for completely blowing off this class” right? I could bounce back! No big deal, I said again to the dogs, who at this point had sprawled themselves on the couch with the certain level of confidence it takes for one to shit all over a living room.

Still craving that euphoric release from a long day, I went straight for the fresh pasta that we’d brought home from our trip to NYC. Hey, if you can’t get those endorphins from a good workout the second closest thing is pasta. Literally everyone knows that. Now here’s where I went wrong. I did what my husband calls my patented “doing too much” move. I had two boiling pots going (one for our pasta and one for the white rice a la mystery shitter) and two skillets. I had the oven cranked to bake off some cookies for my coworkers, and my famous dough softening on the counter. Dogs at my feet, Netflix in the background, our entire little kitchen clocking in at a ripe 90 degrees – I grabbed the handle of a metal serving spoon that had been on the stove. Grabbed it with force, really. Turns out, it was hot. Hot enough to immediately blister my entire right hand. Curse word, curse word, curse word. Water. Ice. Water Ice. Never one to suffer in silence, I wailed and shoved my hand fully in the ice tray – wondering out loud how bad does a burn have to be to call 911. Look, I warned you I’m dramatic. But this sucker hurt. Lord. Ice. Water. Ice. Water. I knew ice wasn’t the right move, but as I wondered aloud to my dogs how I’d ever taken my right hand for granted before, I didn’t really care. Blisters settling, I attempted a few scoops of dough with my left hand – an act that was met with cookie dough flying onto the floor and some happy dogs. I mentally noted that moment for tomorrow when I would most likely come home to more dog poo, thanks to that, and waited for the husband to come home after I fired off a few “burned hand, come home, cookies on floor” type texts. Ever the saint, Keevin walks in with white rice for the dogs, aloe for my hand, and a knowing smirk that says he’s gotten the ole 911 text from me before. God, that man is good. We manage to eat the dinner I’d risked my dexterity for and sadly I have to admit, it was not worth burning my hand over. Something about with my garlic to red pepper flakes ratio. I go to bed promising myself to slow down, and this time, really consider it.

Aging is a luxury not guaranteed to all, and I feel insanely lucky to get to be 26, as I do with every passing year. I’m married to the love of my life, which feels like an incredible feat when I really break it down – finding someone that you genuinely want to spend every day of the next 80 years with is pretty magical. We have a home that we love – 900 square feet of beach cottage, a wildflower filled yard, and a rotted out picket fence that keeps us on our toes. We have 2 dogs that keep us laughing, keep us snuggling, keep us vacuuming, and keep our local vet in business. We have friends that fill our weekends with BBQ’s and side stitching amounts of roaring laughter. We have families that encourage us to adventure and embrace all that life is and will be, while supporting us in any way they can. We’re insanely in love, insanely happy, and insanely lucky. And yet still, we have had moments where we both sit up in the middle of the night wondering how the heck we’re supposed to pull it all off. Ok, mostly that’s me up in the middle of the night because I literally have never seen someone sleep as soundly as my husband, like literally ever. BUT. He has had his moments of panic, of this I am sure, I am just thinking he must be more of an afternoon panicker. Seriously!

We both had incredible parents who provided us those idyllic childhoods that really were, without question, the best gifts they could’ve given us. We both had our college educations completely paid for, and got to graduate debt free from an institution that helped shape our minds. We both have been given so much in this lifetime that it’s only logical we wonder, often aloud, how to best duplicate this for the next generation. That sounds pretty insurmountable when some days I literally want a round of applause for unloading the dishwasher after a long day. 26, man. I still don’t know a lot. I think the older I get, the less I know. Thankfully, I have parents that are fully transparent – they often remind me with a kind laugh that no one ever aces adulthood. There will always, always, always be those dog shit days. And thankfully, perspective will always remind us that even the worst of those dog shit days are still pretty great. But here’s the thing. At 26, I get to laugh off those dog shit days with a man that stood in front of everyone we love and promised me forever. I get to recount those dog shit days to friends that have weathered years of highs and lows with. I get to spend my hard earned money from a job that I some days, really kick at ass, and other days, feel pretty okay at on whatever I want. We have our health, we have our families, we have our dogs, our home, and each other. We still have nothing figured out and everything to learn, but we get to do it together, and laugh while doing so. The good days will always far outweigh the dog days, and for that I am forever grateful. Life is good.