Words from a Waldman: I Guess This is Growing Up

Nobody said it was easy. I’m currently 38 years old, making my age closer to 50 than 20. (It’s so weird to read the previous sentence out loud). I’m very happily married to a wonderful woman, and I spend my free time in radically different ways than I did when I was in college in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and in my 20s as a single man in Los Angeles and on the road.

Dorm life at Michigan was unreal, to say the least. There were hundreds of young adults in my age group living on their own for the very first time ever. Doors to my peers’ rooms were often wide open, probably blasting Eiffel 65’s hit song “Blue (Da Ba Dee),” and weekend nights were often loud and vibrant arenas for fun, frolic, and at least three Nelly songs at a house party, fraternity party, or local bar (depending on how solid your fake Maryland ID was). We were all in this together as new students in a new city, and that shared experience created lifelong bonds and friendships.

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I knew three people (including my roommate who I moved out here with). In a similar fashion to college, I forced myself to socialize (not that it was too hard in such a vibrant and unfamiliar city) and to go out to group gatherings like University of Michigan alumni events, as many live rock shows as possible at one of the plethora of music venues in LA, and out to the bars and restaurants to ingratiate myself into the local community and sample all of Los Angeles’ diverse flavors for spirits and food. Most of my friends were fellow twenty-two year olds who, like me, had just graduated college and moved to a new city to start adulthood. It was a very fun time and I spent many a weeknight and weekend out into the night.

Almost eleven years after I moved to Los Angeles, I met my future wife Kelli, and we got married two years later. I had nine groomsmen, which admittedly was obscene, and eight of them were Long Island and Michigan friends that I had known prior to my move to LA. The ninth was my mom’s fiance’s son, making no one in my wedding party someone that I had met in Los Angeles, and most certainly no one that was in the “industry”.

I thought about this fact and realized that it’s quite hard to make sustainable connections as an adult. People often hang out with their co-workers (I worked alone from home), and with people that they knew beforehand (just one friend that I had made in my first year living in LA still lived in LA). Adulthood can get quite lonely for a number of reasons. We are not socializing for the majority of our weekdays with our peers anymore, and we are not all in the “same boat” anymore. Also, generally speaking, people also have substantially less energy in their thirties than what they used to have, and are by and large more fiscally responsible than they were in their twenties. Even if we don’t like to admit it, people truly do change, or, rather, “grow up.”

In my household, it’s a big week as a married guy if I go out on a “school night” (yes, I still use that term and I’ve been out of school for sixteen years and counting). Kelli and I do so together sparingly or on special occasions Monday-Thursday. Weekend nights I am home way earlier than I was in my 20s. Usually at least one weekend night is spent on the couch. Most weeknights, I watch reality dating shows with my wife, and we are both in bed by around 9:30pm, or 10:00 pm if we’re feeling dangerous. We also co-parent a dog, so unless she’s at her grandparents’ house (my in-laws), we aren’t even gone from the house for an extended amount of time.

Here’s the thing about all of this, and it may not sound like such: I love it. I love that I have a significant other that I don’t have to constantly be out and about with. I need significantly more coffee/sleep now than I did when I was younger, as my work schedule is quite exhausting, and it’s beautiful to have a life partner that I can just do nothing with. Sure I miss having a packed social schedule like I used to have when I was much younger, and I also admittedly miss the sense of community that I used to have with my peers, but seeing close friends less frequently makes each time that much more special. It’s true: now it’s a freaking event with a calendar invite! I also love that I have way less more peripheral people in my life and way more substantive love in my life.

Nobody said it was easy, but I guess this is growing up.