I remember the feeling of euphoria I had as the day of my high school graduation (and coincidentally, my 18th birthday) approached. I was almost done with waking up at 6:00am for classes that I basically texted my way through anyway. I was prepared with a car that was itching to drive me to all places of the world. I was tired of living under mom and dad’s rules. I was about to become a free woman.

The exhilaration of losing the chains of childhood and strutting into adulthood as a full, grown woman lasted all of about three seconds, when the clouds opened up and lightening struck me with my first dose of reality checks. This untimely bolt found me at the party of some friend of a friend’s cousin’s best friend. In the bathroom. Of all the places in the world.

I hate using stranger’s bathrooms, but when you gotta go, you gotta go. Especially when you are at the deadly risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome because you can’t remember when the last time you changed your tampon was. Maybe only 4 hours ago? Maybe this morning? Or was it last night? Well, drat. It would really be a mood killer to keel over and die while foaming at the mouth because I was too embarrassed to use a stranger’s bathroom for the ole’ girly switch-a-roo.

So I find myself taking care of business in a stranger’s bathroom. At least there is a lock on the door. I hurry and take care of business as quickly as possible, then stand and turn to karate chop the toilet flusher with my foot (Lesson of Adulthood #1: don’t ever touch any part of an unknown bathroom. Period.)

As I am washing my hands with extra soap I hear a strange noise. The water from the toilet is running, but did I ever hear the definitive flush signifying that the “business” was long gone into the sewer system somewhere? I peek over the counter and sure enough….. Water is swirling and rising with promise of an epic disaster on the premise. Only one word can describe my feelings then: Panic.
As my eyes flitted back and forth in dire search for something to fix this predicament with, I could only think of Ben Stiller using Jennifer Aniston’s toilet after an unceremonious dumping of spicy Indian food in, “Along Came Polly.” No plunger anywhere in sight. I was about to be humiliated in every way possible if I couldn’t magically conjure up a plunger or something with the equivalent power to vanquish my pending social doom.

Where is that plunger?!

Maybe I can sneak out and no one will know it was me? It is still pretty loud out there, maybe I can peek under the door and see if there is anyone close by that would notice if I bolted? By the time I get to my knees to try and glance through the teensy crack under the door I can hear the water starting to topple over the rim. Oh no! What am I going to do? I have no way out of….knock knock knock, “hello, is someone in there?”
This. Is. My. Worst. Nightmare. Frozen with fear, I somehow manage to chirp, “just a moment,” from my paralyzed squawk box in three octaves higher than my normal voice. There HAS to be something in this stranger’s bathroom, what kind of person doesn’t keep a plunger? Brainless stranger and their stupid, plunger-less bathroom.

Alas! Under the sink! I must have missed it before in my frantic searching frenzy but no matter, I almost have a remedy to this ghastly situation. I grab that thing and raise it higher than King Arthur with his newly found sword and then my hands come crashing to a halt, plunger hanging mid-air.

How in the world does this ridiculous contraption work? Here it is, my salvation in my hands, but the knowledge to use it is gone. I have never “plunged” or “unclogged” anything in my life, isn’t that the reason my dad existed? Do I just….put it in the bowl and the water goes down?

Obviously that isn’t the answer.

Oh for the love of all things…. I was too worried about trying to choose which awesome new dorm room chair would complete my sexy, chic new room for college than learning how to plunge a toilet. The repulsive water is touching my brand new shoes! Great, not only am I going to do the walk (run) of shame out of here, but every last drop of dignity I have will be left behind on the trail of toilet paper in the icky water sticking to my beautiful, new shoes.

Trying to grapple for any memory I could of someone using a plunger, I vaguely remember a scene from a television clip of someone pulsing the plunger in the swirling water. So I give it a try. The water slops around as I give it all the force of nature I can muster. Swoosh. Silently doing the happy dance as the water started to recede was short lived, as something monstrous prepared to launch itself back out.
OH, for the love of all things living, WHAT IS THAT?! That most certainly, was NOT of my doing… and realization dawned on me. Someone else, some other nasty, selfish, disgusting little brute had caused me all of this mess. This is someone else’s mess.

Gag. I have never had control of my gag reflex, but to say violently dry-heaving over this unknown substance from an unknown devil is an understatement.

I thought this plunger was supposed to be a magic wand that would take care of the problem, not make it worse! Someone is outside waiting for their turn, and I am stuck in here with someone else’s mess that I am going to get blamed for. This magic stick and rubber dome are the only hope I have.

Praying against all hope that it wouldn’t continue to extract more vile nasties from the pits of sewage hell, I threw my weight into plunging that plunger as fast as possible, when suddenly…Pop!

All of the water swirling fast, faster down the drain and disappears as fresh, crystal clear water begins to replace it. Tears of joy welling in my eyes, I grab a wad of toilet paper and attempt not to gag as I sloppily mop up the water on the floor then go back to washing my hands.
I unlock the door to find some girl giving me a cock-eyebrowed look and I shrug with the comment, “girl problems,” hoping to smooth over any reputation she might be building of me based on the time and number of odd noises she may have heard while waiting. She gave me a confused look and silently stepped past me and shut the door. For my own sanity, I am just going to pretend she was none the wiser. VICTORY!
By now I was completely traumatized and found myself making a hasty exit from the party.

On the drive home I reflected on what this experience was. Maybe it was just plunging a toilet, but it felt so much more symbolic than that.
The truth is that in the ecstasy of my newfound freedom I was too focused on all the things I thought freedom would bring me, instead of learning the information necessary for surviving adulthood. Instead of ogling boys, posing for selfies with my besties, and planning outrageous vacations for when I would finally be a grown up, I SHOULD have focused on becoming a sponge and absorbing all of the free advice and information about adulthood that I could, because unfortunately, reality checks kept on coming.

Oh, I have to pay INTEREST on this credit card? My internet bill costs HOW MUCH? Yes, I cook my own dinner….wait…do you smell (as the smoke detector alarms) something burning? You mean I should have been taking my birth control pill at the same time, every day? Let me tell you, that last one was the REAL reality check- and now I have my own little one that I am carefully molding into a sponge for Adulthood 101 as we speak.

Trust me, or any other adult you talk to, there is a lot more to being a “grown up” than staying out as late as you want, living the college life, and choosing cute tattoos (which I advise against because chances are, you are going to change your mind about what you think is cute in the future. I mean, when I was ten years old I liked unicorns and mermaids. My tastes have changed in the last 15 years. Why would I think they wouldn’t continue to change in the next 15 years? )

Instead, when you are practicing your yoga to keep your awesome, young adult body in shape, you should ponder becoming one with a sponge. Love the sponge. Become the sponge. Absorb smart adult behavior around you, like how to cook a meal, budget money, or plunge a toilet perhaps? Soak it all in like water into the sponge. Be the sponge. You are the sponge. Namaste.