Every person has a moment when they realize that adulthood has begun. My moment came while constructing the bathroom outside my new house. Let’s backtrack. With my 24th birthday fast approaching, I’ve begun to tell people that I’m almost 24 when they ask me my age. As discussed in previous entries, talking about age is a favorite pastime of Nicas, and is often the first question one is asked when meeting a new person. What I’ve found is that difference between 23 and 24 in Nicaragua is substantial.

Here is the typical conversation I had when I said I was 23:

Nica: Cuantos años tenés vos? (How old are you?)
Me: 23 (23)
Nica: Jovencita! (Young person!)

Here is the same conversation, but this time I said that I’m almost 24:

Nica: Cuantos años tenés vos? (How old are you?)
Me: Casi 24–voy a cumplir 24 en el próximo mes. (Almost 24– I’ll turn 24 next month).
Nica: Ay, tenés bastante. (Wow, you’re super old.) <–I took a little creative liberty on that translation.

This most recent I’m-turning-24 conversation took place with a young woman (19) who, in addition to already being married with cute adorable 9-month-old child, owns the construction store next to my host family’s home.

So there I was, almost 24, with no serious or not-so-serious boyfriend/s (someone once said that Peace Corps is all about being white, famous, and celibate), talking to a 19-year-old with husband and child, in the construction store buying materials to start my new independent adult life living alone in my own house.

Did I miss something? Am I already an old maid? I’ve only just started adulthood–I graduated college one year ago, left home eight months ago, and after several months living as a host-daughter, I am finally preparing to live on my own in Nicaragua. Yet somehow in the Nicaraguan context, I feel as though I’ve lost five years.

Let’s go back to where I was five years ago: At 19, I was a freshman at the University of Maryland, just beginning my life as an ultimate Frisbee super star (ha, ha, ha.) My biggest concern at the time was how the HELL am I supposed to drink EVERY TIME I see a McDonalds sign while road-tripping to a tournament four hours away? Being an adult, getting married, and making babies was never a priority. It still isn’t.

But I’m coming along. I had my “I’m an adult!” moment, after all.

Regardless of how or when I got there, and what being 24 and single means in Nicaragua or in the United States, the fact that I needed a new bathroom, negotiated the conditions with my landlord, consulted, first with a carpenter then with my neighbors on how to build the bathroom, verified prices, bought materials, had them transported to my house, and saw the project through to its finish, all on my own–in Spanish–to me, signifies adulthood. Watch out world; I have arrived.

Next stop, babies.

Just kidding.

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3 Responses to Adulthood

  1. terpoets says:

    Hot water incluido? Just kidding, congrats Lauren! -Jihan


  2. Mongo and I just designed and got wood cut for a portable stoop. Does this mean we have grown up, too?

    I didn’t think so. :-/ Can’t wait until we can stoophang with you!


  3. Mom says:

    Like your shirt…


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