By the time I was 25 years old, I had three children and no idea what I was doing with my life. I was a teen bride, a college dropout, bankrupt, living in a house with no AC, on the side of town that was almost too bad to feel safe in. I remember looking around me at the “real” adults I knew — the ones with mortgages and 401Ks and shit— and thinking to myself someday (maybe in 20 years?) I’ll have this all figured out.
Today is my 44th birthday.
I do not have this all figured out. I thought for sure by middle age I’d understand things more clearly — the people in my family, the world, the IRS — and I do have some things figured out, but the things I don’t still make a very long list.
In honor of this, the completion of my 44th year around the sun, here are 44 things I haven’t figured out.
1. How to alphabetize things that are hyphenated.
2. How to make croissants.
3. Parallel parking (in fewer than five attempts).
4. How compounding interest works.
5. That paying someone to cut your bangs is almost always a better idea than doing it yourself.
6. How the Internet works. (It goes to space?)
7. How electricity works. (Wires?)
8. How a car engine works. (Gas + electricity?)
9. How an airplane works. (Physics?)
11. How to actually remember people’s birthday BEFORE THE DAY (and before Facebook tells me like the schmuck I am).
12. How to take meds every day, on time.
13. How to drink enough water (consistently and without the aid of an app I install and then ignore).
14. Which butter is better, salted or unsalted.
15. How to fold a fitted sheet.
16. How to play the guitar.
17. How to play the piano.
18. How to play the ukulele.
19. How to say ukulele.
20. What the Cloud is.
21. Which of the three light switches in my living room control the kitchen.
22. How to be in a group of people without feeling like a total dork.
23. How to apply eyeliner (without looking like a raccoon).
24. Which plastic bags are recyclable.
25. How to listen to voicemails without paralytic anxiety.
26. How to switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer BEFORE it smells like something died in it.
27. How to get the laundry folded before it is so wrinkled it needs to be dried again.
28. What day the trash man comes.
29. What day the recycle man comes.
30. What the difference Veteran’s and Memorial Day is.
31. What even is a libertarian.
32. How to get library books returned before they are overdue.
33. How to live without a mother.
34. How to be a mother.
35. The actual difference between baking soda and baking powder.
36. How to speak French.
37. How to speak Spanish.
38. How to speak English.
39. That the things I hate about my body now will be the things I scoff at in 10 years.
40. What an expatriate is.
41. How to pay quarterly taxes.
42. Why I have to pay quarterly taxes.
43. WHAT ARE QUARTERLY TAXES?
44. How to put a USB in THE RIGHT WAY.
This list was shockingly easy to make. Maybe I’ll have it figured out by 64?