B has been coming home lately with Various Assorted Trappings of Suburban Adulthood. A few months ago it was a little push mower for our few square feet of front and back yard. Later it was a charcoal grill, maybe 18 inches in diameter, which he piled with an amount of meat that far exceeded the recommended weight limit (twice).
When he took the mower out to the backyard for the first time I watched him through the bedroom window, chugging along, adorable, absorbed in this signifying task. B’s mowing the lawn, I texted friends in NYC and Boston, who do not have lawns. Pics or it didn’t happen, they texted back, but I couldn’t break the moment, could only watch him through the blinds like a creeper. My partner is out in the backyard, mowing the lawn.
B and I are good partners for one another for a number of reasons, not least among them being our similar feelings towards adulthood and the roads that lead there – confusion, interest, amusement. How do we adult, we wonder. Will this do it. Is this adulting. Here, try this. No, no, not that. Nope. Not adulting. Try this. That works. What did we break. Can we replace it.
We adulted in particular ways, across states and cities and continents, with other people and by ourselves; every one of those is a different way of being grown than this is, and more than four years after we met and close to two years after I moved to Louisville, we’re still testing it, still inching into it and accommodating it one Various Assorted Trapping at a time. I’m grateful for the process and more grateful still that my partner doesn’t mind it. I’m grateful I don’t have to pretend to have figured out how to adult, or even how I want to adult, to keep my partner from becoming first suspicious, then disappointed. I’m grateful that for all the things we do utterly independently, in this, we can lean on one another without fear of judgment.
We’re talking about bigger things than charcoal grills and lawn mowers now. We’re talking about buying things that are hard to un-buy. Like it or not, we bought a new car; some adulting can’t be avoided, while some of it we can continue to furtively dodge, thinking that maybe if it can’t see us or catch us it can’t hold us tight in it’s grip, forcing us to make decisions before we’re ready, especially the ones we might just never be ready for.
When we moved in we surveyed the back lawn and agreed it was a good spot for a fire pit, which is one of those things that is adult but makes me feel like a kid getting away with something. We dragged the Christmas tree out there last December because it makes for such phenomenal firewood – if you’ve never seen this, go ahead and light yours up next year. It is, without exaggeration, glorious. Still, spring came and went without us digging the fire pit, and then most of summer.
Labor Day came and I got the idea into my head to adult, in the manner of a kid with a notion (I wanted to do it, I thought we should do it, I bothered B until he agreed to do it): I wanted to clean up the backyard but didn’t have a plan beyond that.
When we got to Lowe’s, on Labor Day, surrounded by adults doing adult things, B suggested we look at what we’d need for the fire pit, which led to some googling, some examining, some debating, and then, to my surprise, some pretty serious measuring, which was, to my near alarm but sincere delight, followed by some purchasing. We seemed set on doing a thing.
We stopped for dinner, and it got later, and it started to rain, but I was content. We had formulated a plan, and we had taken steps to carry out the plan; if we got as far as unpacking the car that night, I would be happy to pick another day to do the building. When we got home the weather cleared a little, so we got the sand and bricks as far as the house; once we’d done as much, we reasoned it made sense to get them into the backyard; following that, we thought we’d just test it, put the shovel into the dirt, see what kind of effort it would take to dig a hole out there, one three feet by three feet – the maximum width to be allowed to call it a fire pit without the need for a permit – and a minimum of six inches deep. And once we’d gotten that far, I think we went insane, and the next thing I knew it was past eight o’clock, the sun was setting with steadfast determination, and we were frantically digging a hole in the backyard, fighting off a battalion of mosquitoes who thought this was their Waterloo. I assume the neighbors thought we were burying a body.
It wasn’t a sensible way to do an adult thing, but it was a bizarrely and unexpectedly joyful way to do it, and that’s what I’m after here, in the end: the joy of the process of figuring out how to be a functional adult, and someone to experience that joy with; the shared joy of looking at one another, in the rain, in the dark, hovered over shovels and a pile of dirt, thinking, just oh so fleetingly, “Well, if I had to bury a body, I’ve found the right person to do it with.”