I grew up in a small town in New Jersey. Now that I’ve moved away, I’m shocked by how much I love visiting the tan suburban hell I once so despised. There’s something reassuring about its utter lack of change, knowing that the same people are still hanging out at the same bars and 7-11 parking lots, or that after a night out with friends we can stuff our faces and arteries full of disco fries next to a table of strippers at a diner.
But on my recent trip back for the holidays, things were different. The time loop was disturbed. One of my best friends got engaged to her boyfriend of approximately ten million years, and instead of going out to party and celebrate, we got together for brunch. Before I knew it, we were talking about my personal trifecta of terror: weddings, babies and houses. (Is it getting hot in this Houlihan’s or is it just me dying alone?)
Let me explain.
The last wedding I attended was a dog wedding. I once spilled a margarita on a baby. Until recently, I was stealing (let’s call it “liberating”) rolls of toilet paper from restaurants for my apartment.
Now, suddenly, I’m watching as my friends start to make the serious adult moves that always seemed so far away. While all Facebook evidence points to the contrary, it’s still hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that my friends -- people my age -- are getting married, buying homes and bringing life into the world, while I am totally lying about not stealing toilet paper anymore.
Where was I when everybody decided to get their shit together? Probably drinking margaritas at a dog wedding.
The most disturbing part of the holiday trip occurred back at my parents’ house. In what could only be a strategic attempt to limit our visits home, my folks have taken to redecorating by hanging embarrassing pictures of my sister and me in every room. Which is how I stumbled upon this glorious slice of childhood awkwardness:
Can we ignore, for a moment, my precious baby angel sister and focus on ME -- doing my best Linda Blair -- wearing an outfit eerily similar to the ones I wear now. At age 27. DOWN TO THE SAME EXACT SHOES. Check it:
The worst part is, I do this without even realizing it. I’ve always been drawn to dresses, bows, and bright, cutesy stuff. I enrolled in dance classes purely to dress up like a tap-dancing hula girl come recital time. I begged my parents to sign me up for Girl Scouts, not for community service or camping trips with my friends, but for the badass Brownie uniforms we got to wear once a week, instead of our Catholic school uniforms (which, incidentally, I also kind of loved).
If it wasn’t for the social stigma attached to grown women running around dressed like Girl Scouts, believe that I would be. In fact:
More than two decades later and I am still dressing like an enormous child. I’m starting to wonder if I’m just regressing and using clothes as a defense mechanism. How can I think about having kids when I still want to dress like one? I’m sure that many people long for the fun, aesthetically carefree days of their youth, but how many of you catch yourself eyeing baby clothes in a window, thinking, “I wonder if they carry that in my size?”
I have some real questions to ponder here. Like, is it possible that my fear of change has resulted in some sort of fashion arrested development? What does “age-appropriate” look like, anyway? AND WHY HAVE I ALWAYS BEEN SO AWKWARD IN PICTURES?!
While I work out the Benjamin Button stuff going down in my life, feel free to embrace YOUR inner child with some of the items currently at the top of my Adult Baby wish list:
So what do you think -- how important is it to dress your age?