Scintilla prompt: When did you realize you were a grown up? What did this mean for you?

I was on the plane before I realized what was happening.

It was May, 2007, and I was flying from Albuquerque to Newark, where I would go through half an hour of extra security measures before boarding an El Al flight for Tel Aviv.

Only a few months earlier, I bought the ticket with my own money, earned at the first full-time job I’d ever held for an entire year. I arranged for my own passport, made my own reservations at a tiny inn in Haifa, and purchased a new pair of shoes that would look respectable with a skirt, but would also allow me to get up and down Mount Carmel with ease.

I did all this without letting my parents know I was going on a ten day pilgrimage to Israel.

I was 24.

I’d already moved across the country, lived in my own apartment, attended (and dropped out of) college, held jobs, bought a car, and generally functioned in the world of adulthood. I was considering opening a Roth IRA. But it wasn’t until I boarded that airplane, buckled my seatbelt, and counted the rows to the emergency exit that the reality hit me:

I was traveling alone, by my own decision, with my own resources, to the other side of the planet. Because I wanted to. And that was a totally normal thing to do, because I was a grown-up.

That was five years ago now. And although I still look about 17, the knowledge of my own adulthood never completely goes away. Sure, I put Twister on my wedding registry, but I also, you know, got married. Despite the fact that I never did finish my degree, I still managed to grow into something that actually resembles a career. I’m living out some childhood dreams (people pay me to write!) and some adult ones as well (the neighborhood development programs I’ve been nurturing are starting to take off!). While my teenage self never imagined the future would include complaining about the cost of purchasing private health insurance with pregnancy coverage, I also didn’t think much about booking international flights without consulting my parents first.

All in all, I’ll take adulthood over childhood any day.

Until the electric bill is due. Then I’ll race you to the swings.

Outside the Shrine of the Bab with a group of young adults who happened to be staying at the same inn. May 2007. We still keep in touch.

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