A birthday for an adult, well, sort of

My birthday is later this week.

I'm not a person who makes a big deal over my birthday. I blow out candles on a cake with my family, go out to eat, and sometimes see a friend or two in the evening.

I'm not one of those people who like to throw lavish parties, I'm more than willing to go into work even if it's my birthday.

And I'm certainly not going to wear one of those triangle party hats.

I'm turning 27 this year, an age which is not a milestone in any sense. I can already get into an R-rated movie. I can rent a car. I've been eligible to vote for nine years. But I'm not old enough to run for Congress or to feel the need to lie about my age.

The only thing that I thought would happen in my life with turning 27 is I thought that I would finally be an adult. Twenty-seven sounds like a grown up. I have friends who are married. I have a child who's almost 7 years old. I have a job. I pay my bills. I almost always remember to buy milk when I'm grocery shopping.

And yet I still don't feel like adulthood has hit me.

My parents probably hope this year will bring an increase in my maturity level. I'm sure they hope I won't whine and groan at the dinner table anymore, that I'd do my own dishes, and eat a vegetable without complaining.

That's right, 27 years old, and I have dinner every night at my parent's house and I'm sure I spend the entire time with my elbows on the table and chewing with my mouth opened. I also roll my eyes during our conversations and growl things like "Muh-Thur!" Apparently, my maturity stopped developing beyond age 13.

When I was a kid, I thought that grown-ups must really like vegetables. It's not true. Silas, my son, is 6 and eats his vegetables without complaint. He enjoys things like chard and carrots and bell peppers.

I, on the other hand, consider it a salad if I put a leaf of lettuce on my hamburger. I think french fries and garden salad are synonymous with each other. I've seen potatoes grow, they're a vegetable and grow in a garden. What more could you ask for?

When I was a kid, I not only considered 27 all grown up, but probably bordering on getting pretty old. I thought I would be married by now and possibly retired and collecting a pension after a long career spanning across my early 20s.

Instead, I'm just starting out in my career, and I'm pretty sure I'm not contributing anything to my 401k (no one tell my financial adviser cousin that, she'd hunt me down and lecture me until my eyes bleed).

I don't' go out on dates, and my only hope to get married within the next decade would be to buy myself a mail order husband. There are actually websites devoted to this, and the pictures on there scare me a little bit.

When I was younger, I would sometimes to go the hospital to have lunch with my dad (we weren't weirdly obsessive fans of hospital cafeteria food, my dad worked there). While I'd be there, eating exotic foods like meatloaf and Pepsi, I would see the other hospital employees milling around. I was always particularly impressed by the nurses. They seemed so together, so calm and collected, so mature.

When I saw nurses at the hospital, I'd always think that there was someone who really had their life together. Now I'm 27 years old and a nurse at the hospital.

I certainly don't have my life all together. I'm not always calm and collected. And I'm certainly not mature in a vegetable eating kind of way. The truth is, those nurses I admired in the hospital 20 years ago probably weren't either.

Zoe Abel is celebrating her birthday by chewing with her mouth closed and serving her son up a big heaping pile of chard. You can contact her at dailyzoe@gmail.com

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