When I was nine, I couldn’t wait to be in my twenties and all the question marks that entailed. At that point, most of my ideas around being an adult came from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Adventures in Babysitting. People did real-life things in their twenties, like had boyfriends and jobs and cars and stayed up way past 8pm. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, but I knew I wanted to get there fast. Freedom of choice, late nights, making memories, finding trouble; I couldn’t wait for the future adventures of awesome adult me.
In my thirties, I referenced my twenties like they lived next door. I’d start a story with “A few years’ back…” and later realize it had been ten. I had my first real ma’am in my thirties, where a pimply-faced worker bee scanned my face for way too long before deciding I was old enough to be ma’am-ed. I considered slashing his tires to prove how young and dumb I was, but I wasn’t that young and dumb, so I didn’t. I worried about 40 for the first time and I guess being somebody in what was now a shrinking time frame. Girls at parties said, “Oh my god, I didn’t know you were [whatever age], I thought you were [a much younger age]!” It flattered and annoyed me, these plucky young women who thought 38 was ancient and 25 was some kind of prize. I wouldn’t do 25 again, not for a lifetime supply of cheese. Was age even really that important?
In my forties, I started wondering out loud if age was really that important, and was met with mostly silence and eyerolls. I talked about my twenties with part-awe (how am I still alive after so many bad choices?? oh, me!) and part-wistfulness (remember when I could wear heels?) for all the things I thought would happen but never actually did. No older French lovers, no artist retreats, no picking up at a moment’s notice to travel the world and have adventures or explore the countryside, wherever that was. I never did – not once – ayahuasca in the jungle with Tom Robbins or some other literary giant. None of these things happened because 1) I’m not a blond chick in a movie and 2) I was too busy barely surviving. I was broke and also broken, or at least in the process of breaking, and not for the first time. I bumbled my way through that decade, making lovely people cringe and simple things harder, never knowing what direction to go in. So far, this is what I remember most about my twenties.