There are a certain set of things people learn, usually by certain ages. Some of these things include walking, talking, using the bathroom, and learning to dress yourself. There is a sense of pride in the eyes of a child who has learned to do these things. I watched a child learn to walk once...she didn't quite do it while I was watching, but she was so close and she knew it. It was truly amazing. I still remember how I felt when I taught my brother to read, and how I felt the first time I heard him read to himself.
When you hit high school, you learn another set of life skills. How to ditch class in the library with your best friend without getting detention. How to sneak off campus for lunch. How to hide contraband (alcohol, marijuana, porn, sex toys, condoms) from your parents. Adolescence is all about secrecy and boundaries. Also, siblings exist for corruption, safe rides, and scapegoats. I owe my brother at least a week of favors for just one incident last year. (This is where I pause and tell him, "Now, if you hadn't gotten your stupid self caught, neither of us would have been hauled in for questioning.") To this day, I pray to the Patron Saint of Sex (Dan Savage) that my mother doesn't find my Bag of Toys before I get to bring them back to Chicago with me.
I was twenty-three when I moved out of my parents house. I had my own little home, complete with high speed internet, cable TV, a very comfortable green couch, and a long-term boyfriend. The boyfriend and I made excellent roommates. I didn't really know how to cook (I could bake, and I could make pasta, ramen, and eggs.) and didn't really trust myself to make meat. We resolved this by having him cook the majority of our meals (and I helped, sometimes) and I did the laundry and other such things. After a while, I stopped being afraid of the kitchen. I remember how I felt the first time I made some chicken when he wasn't home and I was feeling brave enough to try it myself. It was delicious. I could cook!
It's two and a half years later. After spending six months with my parents, I'm in another apartment, in another city, with another roommate, with another set of friends, and another boyfriend. I made barbecue pork chops with rice. There is still a satisfying sense of pride when I shovel the last stray grains of rice onto the fork and shove it in my mouth, knowing I did this, I made this.
And it was good, too.