Becoming an Adult in New York City, Cont'd

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

We’ve heard a variety of takes from New Yorkers on their markers for adulthood, which spurred Jillian to reflect on her own experience in the Big Apple. Our latest NYC story comes from reader Tricia, who contends that it’s “actually the easiest place in the world to be an adult”:

When I first gave thought to this question, I thought the answer was financial independence—that it must have been in October when I got my first paycheck as a lawyer and paid my first month of rent on my own without my parents’ help. But then I thought no, it was actually a few months before that. I was up late at night studying for the New York Bar Exam when a mouse appeared from behind my trash can.

I screamed, as one does. As if in a cartoon, the mouse screamed back, jumped, and ran back behind the trash can. I wasn’t sure what to do.

I was standing on my couch afraid to step on the floor for about ten minutes. Finally, at 1 AM, I jumped from the couch, grabbed my phone, and called my parents, who live in North Carolina and could do absolutely nothing to help me, to ask what to do. My mom, drowsy and still half asleep, actually giggled and said “give him some cheese and make friends.” Then she basically hung up.

It was at that point that I realized I was on my own. No parents, no boyfriend, no friends were going to run over in the middle of the night to save me from a mouse. It was just me. And my mouse.

I did google “renting a cat for mouse hunting,” but it turns out they don’t rent cats out for that purpose. (I’m more of a dog person anyway.)

Luckily, New York City is actually the easiest place in the world to be an adult. A 24-hour delivery service brought mouse traps to my door that very night. The mouse was never actually caught in them, which I am incredibly grateful for because the thought of picking him up to throw him away terrified me. Ultimately, my building super plugged up all the holes in my apartment with steel wool and the mouse never returned.

A few months later, I adopted a dog instead of the cat. So now it’s just me. And my dog. And we love living in the city where you never really have to be an adult—because you can hire someone else to be one for you.

Especially in the age of Seamless, Uber, Fresh Direct, Washio, Shyp, and all the other dodge-it-yourself apps, Tricia has a point. If you have your own unique story about becoming an adult in New York—a coming of age that could only happen in that city—let us know.