Because she so aptly describes the situation of those who have grown up but who are still imagining who they might be when they grow up, I really enjoyed Mindy Kaling’s piece in Sunday’s edition of The New York Times, “Sculpting a Fantasy of a Family.” In fact, I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about it since then because there’s plenty to say on the issue, yet she said it so well. In her essay, Kaling describes an interesting aspect of one’s late twenties or early thirties – the fact it is entirely possible to have created a family and the likelihood of being mistaken for one of the adults in charge. Part of what caught my attention in Kaling’s piece is the same thing that seems to have caught hortense’s fancy in her response to Kaling on Jezebel on Sunday; what gets imaginged is sort of fun and captures a particular moment in a person’s life. What gets imagined as part of the future tends to reflect a person’s hopes, ambitions, and worldview at a particular moment in time and it can be fun to charge one’s progress throughout those stages. It is also interesting to think about the way in which family takes on new forms as we get older and live increasingly independent lives; we value the families we were born into, but we start to shape independent families of our own in many ways as we get older. And part of that process of shaping involves a lot of imagining what one’s adult world might look like.
But I could also sympathize with Kaling’s essay in another way. Early in her essay, she describes just going along with a valet’s assumption that she has a husband and kids to mangage during the holiday season. While she feels slightly guilty about not correcting him, Kaling claims that for a second, she looks at herself as that person. With a good number of people my age and on my radar married with children, I understand the differences between their lives and my own and how the divide that separates our lives isn’t that far apart. In fact, I’ve been known to imagine what people might think of me during a mid-day macaroni and cheese run. I mean, I’m in my late twenties, but young-looking, so it could be for me. Also, I do look mighty hungry on the check-out line. And I’m probably springing for deluxe, which means that I’ve elevated mac and cheese above the powdered cheese iteration. But it is picky kids food. And if I’m running to the store in the middle of the day for mac and cheese, chances are that my grooming is probably lacking. Who knows where I’m running from and to and who’s waiting for me. So the big question is: Who, exactly, do they think the Annie’s Organic Mac and Cheese is for?