Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Thirty Chronicles: The Last Ten

thirty looked different at twenty. it certainly looked much older than it feels today, and i'm very thankful i’m not turning twenty this year. that was a sweet enough time when life seemed so limitless and people seemed so genuine, but it was also a big waste of time, because people in their early twenties are a total waste of cells.

i certainly was, strutting around as I did, convinced i had already unlocked the mysteries of the universe when i was still figuring out how to do my laundry properly, perplexed every time a wool sweater shrank in the wash. those were the salad days, when i could subsist on a diet of coffee and cigarettes and think nothing of the way i was ruining my credit. ten years and twenty pounds ago.

if i could talk to my 20-year-old self today, i’d give her a good shake and smack -- and a long hug, though she'd probably fight me off. she was a bit angry then, capable of mega-bitchiness, and wholly convinced of her immortality and infallibility. she could have never conceived of the minefields and piles of quicksand that she would encounter, the obstacles needed to humble her.

not that my twenties were so horrible, but they had their mania and moments of despair. i changed cities a few times, must have lived in ten different apartments, gone through numerous jobs, boyfriends and paradigms. it was like a decade-long coming-of-age film that i've surely romanticized in being something better than it was.

i know i won't miss my twenties, as i spent most of that time being poor, confused, anxious and fearful. sometimes i cook it up to be something so pure, an age of innocence even in its anguish, but when i go deeper and remember my excesses and missteps, the many nights of lying awake wondering what will become of me, i am so thankful a new demographic is here to wipe my slate.

but if i had that coveted hindsight to do it again, the opportunity to give my 20-year-old self the shake, smack and hug i needed, my stubborn ass probably still wouldn't have listened. perhaps if i stabbed her and wrote the following in blood, it might have gotten her attention:

• quit smoking. it's doesn't look so cool, especially in california, and it makes you smell bad.
• calm the fuck down. you'll waste so much time trying to be tough, independent and self-assured that you'll forget how to be yourself. i know that's who you want to be, but that’s not who you truly are. you’re sensitive, insecure and needy, and you’ll still be that way at 30. get used to yourself and know that it's ok to be vulnerable. it doesn't mean that you're weak, only that you're human.
• be nicer to your parents. they have been so good to you.
• in general: eat more bran, take better care of your skin, never drive drunk, use condoms every time, exercise more, whine less.
• at 23, you'll fall madly in love and be persuaded to leave San Francisco just as you begin to enjoy your life there. don't move back to LA for this man; make him move north instead. a few years later, you'll have the opportunity to attend NYU for grad school. GO!
• trust your instincts more than your heart.
• cherish your friends. they are even more important than you already think they are.
• your writing is atrocious now, but keep trying, though avoid writing poetry altogether. you’ll also keep a blog in your later twenties. it will be a cheap 'sex and the city' ripoff that will amuse your friends and cause you occasional embarassment and intruige.
• don’t skimp on personal hygiene products, coffee, the perfect gift for someone else, a good mattress, a good haircut, sushi.
• on men: give up the fairytale. your happy ending is not guaranteed. it's work and you will make mistakes, but you'll keep trying because you are a romantic at heart. and you won't be married with kids by 30 like you think, but that's ok because you will still like your life.
• don't worry so much. nothing is insurmountable.
• there's more that i'll need to tell you offline -- additional stuff on men, about drugs, and the self-destructive and depressive tendencies you'll be grappling with always. some mistakes you'll need to make; others you don't need to make twice. when you finally know better, do the right thing.
• talk less, listen more. swallow your pride sometimes. stay out of your own way. trust life to take care of you.

now go get 'em, tiger.

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