Another Life Affirming Column About Growing Up (Frankie – 2009)
As a kid I’d say ‘when I grow up I want to be a struggling artist.’ When I blew out my birthday candles I’d wish for a first round grant offer from the Australia Council. To further the fantasy, instead of playing shops at school I’d insist we played Centrelink. On dress up days I’d pull on a bummed out cardigan and tobacco flecked cords. I had a clear vision of myself as a grown up: In my late twenties, artistically hit and miss, still renting with a phobia of children and a string of failed relationships behind me. And now, I have reached that point. I am an actual grown up. This is it.
This is it?
My lifestyle is so far outside the blueprint of normality that I’ve had to create the sub-genres ‘concept adult’ and ‘grown-down.’ Sure, I’ve got all the things other adults have, like a Medicare card, dry-cleanable slacks and an ability to cook stir-fries, but somewhere in the crucial fields I’ve managed to fall completely between the cracks. Monday mornings are the hardest. While fleets of suited men march handsomely off to white collar windfalls, I grizzle about in bed belting the snooze button like the buzzer in a gameshow where every question is ‘what are you doing today you dreg?’
I was the first Heazlewood to go to Uni and my family held high expectations, but with a bachelor of arts in creative writing I couldn’t even walk into a hand job! *becomes Woody Allen* Unperturbed, I continued my trivial little dallies; getting gigs, receiving benefits, sabotaging casual work, getting smashed on school nights and revelling in the hilarity of it all. At first, the real world has some novelty value. It’s like diving into a freezing river – all you can do is squeal and wriggle about. Come Christmas I’d fly home to Tasmania, skirting around questions like a chain-smoking Dylan.
When the real world novelty wears off, you’re just floating alone in a bottomless dam. You reach a cross-road where your punk aesthetic meets a serious fucking lack of money. You’re trying to pay off the emotional mortgage of a long-term relationship, and provide your own artistic capital while lying on a mattress on the floor at 2am listening to flatmates play ‘Facebook Twister.’ You’re still a big-old kid in your jimmy-jams asking the gods when you’re going to really grow up and have that ‘stability.’ Car, partner, house, kitten, Jason Priestly from 90210 high-fiving you at Christmas. Anything.
I recently held an annual general meeting in my mind and made a moving speech to myself. I vowed that all these years of self-employed work experience were paying off, and that it was more important than ever to think of my bedroom as an office, and to adopt more stringent nine to five hours to my creativity. We decided that the company motto of ‘sorry’ had to go, and that we needed to hold our heads high and ignite a bonfire of pride in our hearts for the ideas farm we’d built from the ground up. The next morning I slept in, fired myself and came home drunk to find my locks changed and an ad up for my position. I reapplied, was promoted CEO and sold the company to pay back the Bank of Mum.
Cue John Lennon: ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.’ Instant Karma my friends. Don’t allow your life to become a religion where all will be redeemed in the ambiguous ‘future.’ Grow up! I’ve rolled my training wheels and popped my floaties. I’m living, breathing and choking it. Sure it’s nothing like my family’s visions, but I’m a child of the future! I may not have superannuation but I’m time rich and doing what I love. If you come to my little home I will offer you tea and biscuits, because that’s what grown ups do.