When I was a kid, thirty seemed old. Seriously old. Like taking-out-a-second-mortgage-married-with-kids old. Now that I’m inching towards it, and most of my friends have long since turned the big 3-0, I’m realizing that I don’t necessarily have to grow up right away. And everyone else in DC seems to agree.
If you look at the norm in this city, most of us are not what prior generations were by the time they were in their thirties. Those of us slowly, but surely creeping towards forty appear to be a strikingly close resemblance to who we were in our early twenties. We’re having outrageous Sunday Fundays that leave us pounding pot after pot of coffee on Mondays. We’re renting out tiny, overpriced apartments just so we can live in trendy neighborhoods. We’re maxing out our credit card bills and, yes, occasionally borrowing money from our parents. We’re plowing through relationship after relationship and hyperventilating at the words “marriage” and “children.”
We aren’t growing up because we don’t have to. We are Peter Pan and the city is our Never, Never Land. When do we cave into the pressures of society (and our mother’s constant nagging) and become a full-fledged, certified adult? Do we even have to?
We drink for two reasons: a) it is a luxury and b) it relieves stress. First, there’s the luxury aspect. We aren’t hoarding cases of Natty Light in our dorm rooms anymore. We are going to wine bars and splitting a $80 bottle or wine with our friends at the end of a particularly good day. We can afford it, it’s delicious, and it takes the edge off. Yes, the edge, which comes with our careers. A major percentage of those in the DC metro area work for the government. This is no surprise to any of you and it’s not exactly a stress-free workplace. The rest of this fine city consists of lawyers and doctors, or marketing and IT professionals. We go to the office early and stay late to appease our bosses, keep our jobs, and make it in a cutthroat industry. Our only release sometimes is a beer at the neighborhood pub, or even a bourbon on the rocks while we’re still in our office.
Cost of living is high in DC and surrounding areas, such as Arlington. We can’t afford to live on our own and keep up our lifestyle. The city is our playground and our toys are expensive. So to avoid moving back in with mom and dad, we move in with strangers from the internet. Most of us share houses with four or five other people in their late twenties, early thirties that are just like us. Some of us are lucky enough to only have one roommate who spends most of his time elsewhere. Others walk in to find one of their six roommates shirtless, clipping his toenails in the kitchen. Regardless, while you are saving money, it is absolutely nothing like The Real World. Thanks, MTV. Those of us who do live on our own, are spending the same amount we could be spending on a mortgage, without the commitment. As for children? The closest we get is adopting a puppy. In between kickball games and bar crawls, we have no time or desire to start a family.
The fact of the matter is, we aren’t growing up because we don’t have to. Our friends are in their thirties, living with roommates, having casual relationships and going to 1/2 price wine night every single Monday. We are selfish because we can be. Our mothers can ask when we’re going to settle down until they’re blue in the face and the answer will be the same. We’ll settle down when we want to.
- Suzie Robb