Friday, August 14, 2009

On the wrong side of 25

Yesterday I was filling out a health insurance application where I had to choose my age from the following bands: 0-17, 18, 19-25, 26-29 and so on. I just got bumped up a band! I've been 26 for a while now, but it was still oddly depressing to be so brutally confronted by reality. When I stopped obsessing about the number, the implications of it suddenly dawned on me. To be more precise, two little words popped into my mind- Money and Marriage.

Let's talk about money first. There was a time, not too long ago, when my bank balance went from five figures to zero every single month. Something like a rectified decreasing sawtooth graph:

Although my upbringing suggests no folly on my parents' part, I have grown into someone who puts most expenses to a simple test- "Does it pinch my pocket?" If the answer is no, I spend. If the answer is yes, I don't. The result? I bought most things that caught my eye giving not a thought to tomorrow. Sometimes I feel I picked up a $150,000 education with the same insouciance. I'm not too sure if my binary logic will work any longer, especially given my swelling student loan, all the trips I want to send my parents on, the house I need to buy and other impossible promises I've made myself and my friends. I even checked up on my mutual fund investments in India. Their abysmal values only increased my urgent zeal for financial prudence.
It's incongruous that moving up an age band should make me grow up so much. Well I guess it is not such a bad idea to put away something for an impulse African safari, or A's $35,000 lens fantasy, or the day my birth control fails.

Now that brings us to the burning question of marriage. The excessive amount of time I spent with my parents recently served to confirm what I've always known at some level. They will not be the ones to find me a husband. They are pretty unconventional and liberal for Indian parents. But the real reason is their reluctance to take such a heavy risk, knowing their daughter. This means I will have to fend for myself. That's not so much of a problem. Let's suppose I follow Rachel's 30th birthday plan in F.R.I.E.N.D.S where she wants a year and a half to plan the wedding and know the guy for a year or so before getting engaged. Uh oh! If I plug in my own numbers into that plan, I should be with THE guy and planning the wedding already. That's the point when I reached my threshold for seriousness and grown up thought.

Why do I have a sinking feeling that 26-29 is not going to be too different from 16-19?