On the peculiar adultness of having to put two things in one hand:
I was just walking out of a café. I had had sushi (do you hate or love when you have to “had had” or “that that”?) and an iced green tea (they have the best green tea; it tastes a bit like grass but in a good way), and I had my wallet and phone in one hand, my keys and my tea in the other, and I thought about back to a time when I didn’t necessarily need to hold two things in one hand.
Or maybe I always have and maybe it has nothing to do with adulthood.
But I remember a time when I was in Mexico City in high school on a mission trip (this is the sort of thing I used to do when I was pre-now-me) with some friends. The mission part of the trip was in a town called Tlalamac and we had such fun getting our tongues to move the way that word wanted us to.
After we were done being good missionaries, we went to the City to be good tourists, because all high school mission trips are at least partly about tourism.
I remember getting a drink (it may have been a coffee) (it probably was) (but it may not have been) and my friends began to make fun of me.
I was dressed — I don’t know, what I thought was nice at the time? — I had big sunglasses on, and I was walking down the street with my coffee and my phone, and they made fun of me because — as they said — I looked like I was trying to be an adult. I was sixteen or seventeen at the time, so — not an adult, but I probably thought I was. And something about walking around the big city and holding two things in one hand gave this air of grown-up-ness.
Lest you worry that this was a one-off, I have another story for you.
In this instance, too, I was not necessarily a child but definitely not an adult. But I was imitating adulthood.
I was a senior in high school. I went to a party. This probably cues in your head images of Mean Girls (or Superbad) style house parties where everything is getting thrown about and broken and not many condoms are being used, but no: my crowd didn’t drink. The hardest thing being served was Diet Coke with the caffeine.
No, my crowd not only didn’t drink, but we didn’t drink pretty ostentatiously. Did you know you could not do something ostentatiously? We liked to make fun of the high schoolers who did drink, because we were cool enough we didn’t have to. (Cue knowing laughter) We would hold our Solo cups of Sprite and put our phone and the cup in one hand and take selfies before that word was invented with the other. Because that behavior, that particular posturing, was our impression of college students and badly-behaved high schoolers. They held their phone and their cup in one hand, which made them more adult.
In retrospect, these things were performative. They were me trying to be a grownup when I wasn’t yet.
It’s just hitting me now, at 28 years of age: I certainly feel like an actual and absolute adult, but I’m sure in 5 or 10 years, I will cast a withering look in the direction of my late twenties self and think that girl is very young and unknowing of the ways of the world.
But now, now that I have my keys and my tea in one hand, it strikes me: oh. This is what I was imagining, way back when.