There are times in our lives when we complete a task, even something small and meaningless, and we say to ourselves, “This is adulting.” Maybe we fix our own dinner in our own apartment, maybe we tell our child, “Because I said so,” but when that moment arrives we think that not only have we achieved adulthood, we are dismayed that this is all there is to it. Being an adult isn’t bestowed upon us simply because we reach a set age, despite certain landmark ages, such as driving age, voting age, drinking age, or renting a car without a surcharge age. It’s in moments of quiet responsibility, without prodding from the outside world, that we accept our transition to the dark side and we feel just a little bit older.
I’ve felt older than I am for a couple decades. Admittedly, I started my family at an early age, so responsibility naturally came along with that, but I remember turning thirty and feeling like I was pushing sixty. About the age where we start to notice the feeling of exhaustion, and not because we put off that term paper until the last moment – you know, self-inflicted exhaustion – but because life wears on us, beating us down, eroding the years as if carving a canyon with its gradual, ongoing destruction. At this point in my adulthood, when I felt completely exhausted from life, I earned a cruise to Alaska as an employment incentive, and suddenly, for seven days and six nights, adulthood lifted its wings and flapped away to harass someone else.
I squeeze a lifetime of adventures in my one-week cruise to the forty-ninth state. This includes an overnight in Vancouver, British Columbia. When it’s late July and the sky stays light for roughly twenty hours a day, it’s easy to tackle much, especially when I’m not saddled with the hassles and pressures of daily life. I won’t bore you with a slide show of my excursions (see Shared by Bears and Coeds from January 2012), but let’s just say I enjoyed standing on deck watching the islands as we sail past, twinkling in the night sky, and there aren’t many hours of night sky in the summer above sixty degrees latitude. I sleep in during the morning if I’m so inclined, and yes, miss a good chunk of Glacier Bay, but I am responsibility-less and that’s what we do when we’re not adulting.
Yet, as I sit down to dinner each night, tasting a little bit of the delights of an all-I-can-eat menu, I recognize this is my chance to eat the way I don’t at home. You bet I order the lobster, and steak is a luxury on a cruise that isn’t on the table of a single mom raising two small boys, so I am absolutely ordering it. And, yes, you damn well better believe I ordered the caviar on the fancy, formal night. That’s also the night I sample the baked Alaska, because when in Rome… (or better yet, when the Italian waiter boldly and loudly asks at the long, group table, “Why you no try the baked Alaska?” you have no choice but to demure and accept a slice). But despite all the delectable desserts, every other night, I take six minutes to remind myself that I am an adult and do not have the metabolism of an eight-year-old, and I order the sorbet du jour to end my meal. I can’t tell you the flavors – they don’t matter (except the apple pie flavor, which I skip dessert altogether), just that the smooth, fruity flavors are light and guiltless, as am I. These may be the only responsible, adult moments in a week full of fun, frivolity, and fascination that ends with the realization that adulthood is forever, even onboard the Sun Princess.