This summer, I signed my first lease.

At the time, I felt that it should’ve been an event—after all, it was a life milestone. I was an adult now. I had to pay rent now. But instead it was alarmingly easy.

I was out of state, and my future apartment-mates had done much of the in-person work required by the complex. All of my contribution had been online, filling out forms and uploading documents and answering emails. When I signed the lease, it was scribbled onto the screen with my laptop touchpad. No matter how many times I cleared and resigned the box, the signature was always a pitiful, scratchy looking thing, an insult to my pride.

Midway through August, I moved into our new place—a small yet blessedly new third-floor apartment with sparse enough windows that I worried for the health of my many plants. I’ve since paid three months worth of rent and electricity.

Actually paying the rent still feels absurd: Who am I to gather hundreds of dollars worth of venmos from my apartment-mates? Who I am to ask a bank teller for a cashier’s check? When the teller asks for the amount being paid, I always hesitate. Reciting the cost of our rent feels grave, despite the fact that much larger quantities of money likely pass through that teller’s hands on a daily basis.

At the beginning of the year, I wondered if we also had to pay water. One of the girls assured me that we didn’t—one who likely knew the lease agreements better than me, so I didn’t question it. Besides, it was convenient to believe we had one less bill to pay.

You see, we’re adults, but only sort of. We often have school friends over: typically a handful of guys from the “McGrew McCrew”, named so for the fact they live in McGrew House, an all-male house on campus. The other night, Ben and Grant, two of the McCrew, entered our apartment with guns blazing and nerf darts flying. After the chaos settled, Grant, who was holding a dummy knife in his hand, peered around with a slight frown. “Where’s Joanna? I need to stab her, too.”

We informed him that Joanna was in the shower, and that attempting to stab her at the moment was inadvisable. We then spent a good amount of time trying to remember which famous movie had a shower-stabbing scene, regardless of the fact that none of us seemed to have ever seen it. (Psycho, Google has since informed me, is the famous movie with the shower-stabbing scene.)

So we’re adults, sort of, but also—not.

Yesterday, we discovered that we did indeed have a water bill. We also learned that real adults are supposed to check their mailboxes frequently. This is because real adults receive important things in the mail, things like bank statements and water bills.

The bill was a month overdue. It seemed a miracle that our water hadn’t been shut off.*

*I have since learned that water companies actually can’t shut your water off in retribution for you not paying?? What a wild world we live in.

2 thoughts on “adulting”

  1. This made me smile. It’s short and simple, yet gets the point across so well. The transition between the water bill and the McGrew McCrew (and then back to the water bill) flows so smoothly, as does the rest of this piece. I felt immense satisfaction, not to mention warm and fuzzy, after the story concluded. It’s beautiful, artful prose about growing up but not really. I’ve had similar experiences like your water bill story, and will probably continue to have them for a long time. Whenever they happen, I always feel like a wobbly little fawn, trying out her new legs for the first time. Thanks for sharing a humorous and feel-good slice of your life!


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