One Saturday night back in the late 1980s – it must have been 1988 or 1989 – my friend Carrie and I were out “driving around.” This is what we did during our high school years, once my friends and I had our drivers licenses – and a car. In our small, one-high-school, one-movie-theater town, there wasn’t much for teenage kids to do. So, we drove around. We drove loops through the town, from the fast food restaurants on the west side, to the neighborhoods of the east side, and back again. We gossiped, we sang along with The Cure and the B52s and Drivin’ N Cryin’, we agonized over our current dating (or not dating) situations, and we looked for other friends who were out driving around, too.
On that night, Carrie and I were discussing what it meant to be a grown-up. Both of us were headed to college, and on that night, we might have known that I was heading to the University of Florida and that she was headed to Stetson. But that may have come later. I think it was Carrie’s idea, but I embraced it: being grown up meant buying your own toilet paper. Yes, that was it. THAT’s what it meant to be an adult. We christened the idea the Toilet Paper Rule.
I’ve bought a lot of toilet paper since that night, and I can look back on my 16-year old self and confidently say that we were wrong.
There have been many moments in my 40 years of life when the thought crossed my mind: “This is it. Now I’m a grown-up.” Paying my bills in college, with money I earned from the job I worked while studying full time. Getting married and moving in with my husband. Having our first child over nine years ago.
Nothing has made me feel more my age, though, than caring for my sick father.