I was talking to my father on the phone the other day when I announced, "I made pasta for dinner tonight."
"Um ... congratulations?" he replied, not altogether sure of my meaning yet unsurprised by my occasional randomness.
"I'm proud of the little things."
"That's good, honey," he said. "I'm glad you finally got the whole boiling water thing down."
"I felt like ..." I paused, chewing my slightly mushy fettuccini (pasta's hard, OK?) and trying to figure out how to articulate myself. "I felt like I was playing adult. Like I'm not really an adult, but here I am, in my apartment that I clean, acting like one."
"Yeah," I said. It tasted slightly like goo. Starchy goo. "When do you become a real adult?"
My dad laughed. "Never? I was leading a staff meeting the other day and then I went and had drinks with Glen and we were marveling at how all these people were sitting in a room, listening to me. Doing what I say.
"And then the meeting's over and I go back to being 13, except I can drink beer."
"I don't know whether that's comforting or depressing," I said. I dumped the rest of the pasta down the drain.
I spent my spring break in Europe, eclipsing the beaches and bikini-top-disposing frivolities of Cabo San Lucas and Cancun to visit my best friend in London. Where it snowed.
Eva graduated from college last year and decided, apropos of nothing, that she was going to move to London. She spent a week there and decided this was it — the city in which she would find a career, get married and raise babies that she could push around the freezing cold and often rainy streets. To her, it was paradise.
I stepped off the plane expecting to find the Eva I had known in California — the one who would come home drunk at 4 in the morning with a strange baseball cap on her head and a strange boy on her arm. "His name's Tony," she'd say, laughing and swaying on his arm.
"Max," he'd say.
She'd giggle. "Isn't he CUTE?"
My first glimpse of London Eva was at the airport — namely in the fact that she was AT the airport, on time, sober and smiling. She aptly navigated the tube and cobblestone streets until we arrived at the door to her flat, which, she proudly informed me, was less than five minutes walking distance from her office. As she cooked me rosemary chicken — with potatoes — she told me about her flatmates, her new favorite restaurant and a client she'd recently acquired for her advertising agency. I know, I was in shock too.
Somewhere between Berkeley and London, between June and March, Eva had bridged the gap between child and adult.
I said this to her, my mouth full of awe and chicken.
"Well, this is it," she replied. "This isn't a dress rehearsal. This is real life."
When does real life start? Is it when you become an adult? And what makes you so — is it graduating from college? Is it when you get your first bill in the mail? Is it when you know that while your parents might still give you sympathy, money is out of the question? Is it simply something intangible that you feel, or, in the case of my dad — who still makes fart jokes at every opportunity — attempt never to feel? And does it ever get less scary?
I can feel adulthood looming around the corner, with the weight and menace of real jobs and responsibilities. That all can wait for a while, though.
For now, I'll try to master pasta.
Liz Moody, a Johansen High School graduate, is a student at the University of California at Berkeley. She can be reached at email@example.com.