how to be (or not to be) an adult

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I purchase a small hot chocolate in the Bronx for one dollar from a kind man who appears like a giant, elevated in his metal food truck. Our first conversation sounded like this:

“May I have a hot chocolate please?”
“You want sugar?”
“Oh, no thanks. Do you have soy milk?”
“No.”
“Skim milk?”
“No.”
“Just milk.”
“Ok…I’ll have that. Thanks.”

When he handed me the small paper cup, wrapped up in napkins, he said, “Soy milk? In the Bronx?” And he laughed.

Two months later, and we have developed sweet banter like this:

“No milk today, please.”
“Straight up?”
“Yup.”
“Off the rocks?”
“You got it.”

Yesterday, I ordered my one dollar hot chocolate on a particularly cold day. I once again asked for no milk. “I need it extra hot,” I said. “It’s so cold out today.”

“You teach kids around here?” he asked.
“Yes, but they’re adults.”
“You’re only an adult if you’re married,” he said. “And have kids.”
I laughed. “Oh, then I’m nowhere near being an adult. I may never be one.”

As I walked away, wrapping my fingers, reddened from the cold, around the paper cup, I thought about this definition.

Adult = Married + Children

As I get older, I notice my womb calling out to me.
You gonna fill this? it whispers.

I’ve never had any pressure from my parents to marry, maybe because I’m a homo.
Maybe because I’ve never really gone the traditional route.
I don’t think anyone expects me to have children.

So, there’s ticking in my womb and suddenly New York says I can legally get married. I will probably forego the marriage part, but maybe one day I’ll adopt a baby or some sperm.

Can I still be considered an adult if I only partake in one of the requirements? And if I do neither, what am I?

As a kid, I thought adults were people who paid bills.
I do this.

The thing is, there is no one definition.
Just like: there is no one way to be a woman or a man or a human.

I’ll keep drinking my hot chocolates, falling in love, playing with other people’s children and paying my bills. I’m not sure these encapsulate adulthood, but I know they are signs of just living.

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