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It’s been nearly a year since I left home and made my way to the big city from small-town Georgia (after spending 4 years living in Atlanta), and I’ve started to reflect on what I’ve learned about being an “adult.” First of all, I refuse to be called an adult, so write that down. Despite that, I feel like I’m slowly uncovering things that make me feel like an adult, like doing taxes or making pudding at 11 PM on a Wednesday night.

In college, I lived in campus apartments built to house athletes during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, which made me question why Olympians would aspire to such an event at all. Between squeaky furniture, ancient appliances, and the random leaks in my apartment, I never put that much effort into the upkeep of my surroundings. Even spending hours cleaning wouldn’t really improve the place. Now that I spend 50% of my take-home income to live in a 125-year-old building renovated to look like an IKEA showroom, I feel more inclined to get some elbow grease to keep my living space in tiptop shape! Plus, I haven’t left the house for more than 30 minutes at a time in 2 months, which probably contributes to my newfound desire to put in some work.

All of this sounds like I’ve become some sort of handyman, but you have to understand that I went to college a 40-minute drive away from home, so I never really worried about basic life things like laundry or food. Even now, my freezer holds a dozen plastic containers of my mum’s food, carefully smuggled across state lines in freezer bags to get past the TSA. So, discovering that I can use baking soda and vinegar to clear grease away from my stove feels like I’m discovering calculus. Using a plastic snake to unclog my drain? Revolutionary. I suddenly understand how Einstein felt when figuring out special relativity. 

Even with all of the time at home, I’m still not great at a lot of this stuff. Dishes pile up in the sink sometimes. Laundry spends a few days unfolded. Empty boxes sit for a few too many days. With each passing day as an “adult,” I gain a greater appreciation for my mum, who has dedicated her whole life to making sure that my family didn’t have to worry about those small things so my brother and I would be able to study and my dad would be able to work without distraction. Working tirelessly, she made sure to make home feel like home, in its sparkly, food-filled, warm glory. In my new “adult” chore discoveries, I find comfort in the cleanliness and the function. A clean kitchen with a sparkling stove and counter reminds me of when I would turn off the lights in the pristine kitchen of my childhood home at the end of a late night of studying. I would go to say good night, knowing that no matter how tired she was, my mum would be up as long as I was up, just in case I needed something.
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Nikhil · 325327 Georgia Tech Station · Atlanta, GA 30332 · USA

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