The Urban Dictionary defines adulting this way: “To do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as a 9-5 job, a mortgage, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown-ups.”
As a child, I always longed to be an adult. To me, being an adult meant having the freedom to have my own house, go wherever I pleased, and stay up as late as I wanted. In my 20s, I longed to be married, own a beautiful house with matching utensils and stainless steel appliances, and hold an exciting and well-respected career.
And then it happened. At age 30, I found myself an official “adult.”
I was married, a new home owner (yes – complete with matching utensils and stainless steel appliances, not to mention a hefty mortgage), possessed a well-respected and decently paying job, and stayed up as late as I wanted every night (which, ironically, was typically still only as late as 9pm, the bedtime that was inflicted upon me as a child).
Perfect, right? I had “made it.” That is, until one day I woke up and thought, This is it? All those times I had played house as a child, longing for this game of pretend to be reality had prepared me for THIS? Oh dear. It was kind of… well… disappointing (to say the least). My version of “playing house” as a child never involved analyzing a budget, paying taxes, doing laundry, and spending Saturdays in some superstore mindlessly searching the aisles for garbage bags and toilet paper. Dammit. This kind of sucked, I realized. I wanted a refund. Adulting was hard.
Although the act of moving to an island, site unseen, was packed full of adulting (selling a house, selling a business, sorting out finances, etc.), unbeknownst to us, once we settled into island life, many of our adult responsibilities just… disappeared. Sure, some of those responsibilities are still here. Along with attending work everyday, we still have to do laundry, buy groceries, and pay the bills; however, island life has caused us to regress back about 10-15 years, to a time where we just didn’t really give a f&*k about adult-like responsibilities.
Let me give you some examples:
Something is broken. Should we get it fixed? Meh.
A big part of adulting is maintaining your home, your car, and all the belongings that you worked so hard to accumulate. When we lived in Canada, our vehicles received regular oil changes, the repairman was called when the dishwasher wasn’t operating up to standards, and our furnace received regular cleanings.
Things are different on the rock. When our bed literally broke in half, causing my husband’s side of the bed to graze the floor, we made an executive decision to throw a stack of books under the broken half and go to the beach. After about 3 weeks of me rolling down the steep slope and colliding with Evan in the middle of the night, night after night, we decided it was time to fix the bed properly (and when I say we, I mean Evan). Insert dramatic text from that day to island friends: “Ugh! Sorry. We can’t meet you for happy hour drinks today, we have to fix this damn bed! #adultingishard.”
Likewise when our little Japanese car squealed offensively each and every time we turned the key, Evan and I would look at each, shrug our shoulders, and crank the music up louder. “We should probably get this thing looked at before Christmas,” we’d said optimistically back in October. As we near Christmas, I laugh at how unlikely that plan truly is.
What are these “taxes” that you speak of?
I recall landing my first job in my career as a Speech-Language Pathologist. The thought of receiving a regular paycheck was unbelievably thrilling. I had attended 7 grueling years of University for this epic moment! I vividly remember skipping to my mailbox at work on my very first payday, mentally spending that check on frivolous adult things such as designer purses, shoes, and lipgloss. When I opened that magical envelope, I was shocked to see that almost half of my paycheck was gone. What the hell? My heart sank as a co-worker explained that money had been deducted for my pension, parking (I have to pay for parking? At work?), and taxes. Ugh. Taxes. This was disheartening, to say the least. Then I understood what “take home” salary actually meant, and it definitely was not enough to cover those frivolous adult items I had anticipated on top of our mortgage, car payments, and household costs.
In Cayman, we do not pay taxes. Cayman is a “tax-free haven.” To clarify, on the other hand, all imported goods (food, housewares, clothing, etc.) are taxed on import, so items here are expensive, reflecting the cost of the import. In fact, Cayman is one of the most expensive places in the world to live. Bummer. But you know what? When the cocktail menu states $12 CI for a margarita, it means exactly that – $12 CI. In addition, my salary is not taxed. When I look at my paycheck each month, there is one number: my “take home” salary. No deductions. It’s simply my salary. Isn’t that a novel concept? Filing taxes, you say? No thanks. I’m busy. And no, contrary to what many believe, we do not have some secret tax-free Caymanian bank account where we launder money. Now that would require some advanced adulting, wouldn’t it?
Run Errands? Not today, thank you.
A regular Saturday back in Canada typically began with a discussion regarding The List. “So what do we need to do this weekend?” I would inquire as we read each item and discussed a trip to the grocery store, hardware store, mall, and bank. We somehow managed to fill hours of our weekend driving around town, checking items off of this very important, adult-like list.
Living on the island, we still have a list… sort of. It might not be in writing anymore, but it’s there, floating around somewhere in our frozen piña colada’d brains. We know that we should probably get groceries. Stopping by the bank would be an excellent idea. It would be responsible to go to the pet store and purchase some dog food. But… we just don’t ever get around to doing it all. We talk about it. We contemplate it. Somehow the plan just doesn’t get executed. The issue is that there are just so many other enjoyable things that we’d rather be doing on our days off here. It’s all about priorities (which is a very “adult” thing to say, don’t you think?). Our new strategy is to fulfill our basic needs first. “OK, we have no food. Let’s do the grocery thing today, go scuba diving, and worry about the rest later.” This was working well for us, generally speaking, until we failed to include power as a basic necessity. When the power suddenly went off one day for longer than a normal outage, we looked at each other wide-eyed and questioned, “Did you pay the bill this month?” I’m not going to lie, for a second, we felt like degenerates (until we found out that it was, indeed, a power outage). After taking a poll amongst our friends, who are all respectable, contributing members of society, we were surprised to learn that we were not the only ones on island who were not paying our bills in a timely manner. Bills Shmills – let’s hit the beach!
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Sometimes I wonder if “adulting” is like riding a bike and if, someday, we are forced to leave this tropical paradise, we will easily fall into our old routine, behaving as adults are expected to behave. Personally, I think that life is challenging enough without the stress of matching my bath towel to my shower curtain. In the meantime, I’m embracing my “regression” of sorts and am fully committing to Never-never-land living! Who’s with me?