I turned 27 last week. “That’s a good age,” a mid-30s friend told me. “Not too young, not too old!” I agreed. It felt good, I told him via Twitter message.
Later, when I was lifting two birthday bouquets into the narrow hallway to my very 20-something apartment (the kind with a futon in place of a couch), my upstairs neighbor asked me: “How old?” I suppose I could have answered, “Young enough that grown men don’t feel strange asking.” Instead I told him, and when he asked how it feels I said, again, “Good.”
When my mother was 27 she’d been married for four years and employed for three by the same people who write her checks today. When her mother was 27, she had two kids (my mom was the second) and ran a farm. Now I’m 27 and employ myself and put off getting married and buy $12 cocktails instead of saving responsibly. I’ll worry about that, I’ve figured, when I’m an adult. Or adult-er.
It’s telling that the show Girls (about 20something women in New York who I guess I’m supposed to relate to) is written by the nearly-27-year-old Lena Dunham. The characters are a couple years younger, but not enough to make a huge difference. I may have been a little more of a mess when I was 24, Hannah Horvath’s age on show, but I was no girl. But if I had been, nobody would have faulted me for it.
Adulthood isn’t a number, but you know it when you see it. My friends from high school are getting married and having babies, for instance, and while I don’t think those milestones define adulthood or togetherness they do signify a place at which lasting choices are permissible. At first it was only the friends I might have gone to wholesome parties with once upon a time but never visited after graduation, but now the group’s expanded to include people with whom I’ve shared books and pubescent angst, Brooklyn cab pukes and 3am dancing. And where I might recently have thought,”This is wrong,” as though other people’s commitment to Big Decisions meant I was on the clock for mine, now I think “This is nice,” because it feels good to get a sense of what the long term is going to look like for the little friend-family I’ve forged, to feel like the girl-flux is slowing down. I liked being a girl sometimes, but it got exhausting. Bring on those late-20s, the thirtyish years. I’m ready to be a woman.