In just over a week, I'll turn 33 years old.
That felt like a lie, typing 33. You know who is 33? An adult. And most days, I don't feel like an adult. I feel like a kid, like Tom Hanks in "Big," but without the loft apartment and trampoline.
I'm a kid in a grown-up world, eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal for dinner and sliding around the kitchen in socks while other people have a mortgage and read for leisure and jog.
But time and again, the world reminds me I'm an adult.
"How can I help you, ma'am?" "That'll be $4.79, ma'am." "We're out of network, so you'll have to file an insurance claim, ma'am."
I appreciate the formality, but it's just as easy to say "miss."
Note to those in the service industry: You cannot go wrong with "miss." Little old ladies will giggle and women used to hearing "ma'am" will think their new hair dye must be working.
Another sign I'm an adult in age only is that I still enjoy celebrating my birthday.
Adult women aren't supposed to. They're supposed to spread the word a week in advance that they want their birthday to pass, unannounced.
Then there's me. A week ago, my husband asked what I wanted for my birthday. He stopped me about 30 seconds into my answer.
"Wait," he said. "Let me write this down."
He spoke as he typed on his iPhone. "Balloons tied to railing. Gifts throughout the day. A puppy. Glitter stuff."
It sounded like an 8-year-old's wish list. The only thing missing was a pony and a trip to Disneyworld so I could meet a real-life princess.
But then I thought, "Who cares? It's my birthday. If I want to wake up and see balloons around the house, there's nothing wrong with that."
I work. I pay my bills. I put others' needs ahead of mine 364 days of the year. If I want to have all my friends over for ice cream cake and martinis, I should be able to, dag nabbit.
It makes me sad when people say things like, "Meh. I don't really celebrate my birthday," or "It's just not a big deal for me any more."
Where's the fun in that?
Adults are much too serious. I should know. I am one ... supposedly.
Vanessa Renderman is a Times reporter and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.