Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 18, 2012

True moments of adulthood

JAMIE PARSELL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — It wasn’t meant to be a compliment. But I decided to consider the mistake — the assistant pastor thought I was 17 years old — as a moment of flattery. As a woman in her early ’30s, numbers are a sensitive subject. Will this birthday be the year I discover my first gray hair? Or will it be the year I finally look my age? I celebrate these innocent mistakes just as much as I revel in the small things that signify adulthood. The big moments of life don’t seem to create a heady cloud of adulthood. For example, I didn’t feel like an adult when I graduated from college in 2002. It was more like a child playing dress-up in a big black gown and funny hat. I experienced the usual what-do-i-do-now anxiety as other college graduates. Yet, I didn’t notice any differences by walking across the stage and switching my tassel from one side to another. I didn’t even feel like a grown-up on the day of my first job. I was too nervous, constantly checking my black dress pants for lint. I bought my first vehicle in 2004. I said good-bye to my parent’s home four years ago. Then, I got a new driver’s license at age 30. All big moments, but none that make one feel like an adult, except the following:

I filed my taxes on Tuesday night, sitting on the couch, while shamelessly watching the last episode of the “The Bachelor.” There is nothing like watching mind-numbing reality TV and preparing important documents for the IRS. As a child, I watched my dad do the family taxes. There were always papers scattered everywhere; pencil erasers rubbed down to nothing. It looked like serious business. Of course, taxes are now done on computers in less time than it takes to watch bachelor Ben get down on one knee. During his proposal, I happily submitted my 2011 taxes. As the goofy couple gushed and grinned for the cameras, I congratulated myself on finishing my taxes before April 15.

I bought new lamps for the living room. Forget the big purchases, I feel more like an adult when I purchase mundane things like lamps, towels, cleaning products and lightbulbs. You would think purchasing a home would be an accomplishment. However, I have discovered there is more to ownership than a signature on a dotted line. Someone has to sweep, mop and chase down the dust bunnies. Not to mention, pay the light bill on time every month, plus the mortgage and other bills that come with home sweet home. The same person has to climb on a chair and change those pesky lights bulbs too.

For most of us, we can link many of our coming of age moments to our parents or other family members. I will never forget the day I become my mother. At a recent out-of-state church trip, a gentlemen began handing out hot dogs to eager children. I was helping with the ketchup and mustard distribution when I noticed a 2-year-old boy staring at his hot dog in confusion. I immediately snatched up the hot dog and created a more toddler-friendly snack. I had turned into my mother, who always made sure a hot dog couldn’t choke a small child.

My job at the Bluefield Daily Telegraph has provided a lot of grown-up opportunities. I have met dozens of interesting people, traveled to the Governor’s mansion in Charleston, talked with a few celebrities and interviewed famous authors. It is fun and I am blessed to have a creative job. But recently I learned there is a local boy who likes to read my column every Sunday morning. And he told his mother he wanted to know what I would be writing about for St. Patrick’s Day. I have to admit the green holiday wasn’t on my list of topic ideas for the week. However, the conversational comment sparked the “wow” feeling. I have a responsibility as an adult and a journalist to encourage, support, amuse and inform readers like Tré. Such a small moment but a big deal for this lifestyle editor.

Jamie Parsell is the Lifestyle editor for the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at jparsell@bdtonline.com.