Alec’s old car sat in my parents’ driveway for a few weeks, and when he drove it again there was a giant clank as the rusted bits of his brakes wretched free. That’s what this is like I suppose. The rust flaking off my fingers and mind as I type. People tell you to write every day. You must, you must. But I reside in the camp that hoists up the flag for seasons and rhythms. Spring was a two-mile sprint as I cranked out an entire manuscript draft in a month and a half. I determined that a week was needed before editing except now it’s August. And that’s okay. Because like clockwork I feel the words waiting to be plucked from beneath the surface – they’ve bubbled up again, and now I’m ready to scoop them out one by one and line by line. So here we are. As Ingrid Michaelson would say, you & I, you & I, you & I.
When I publish this, I’ll be twenty-four. To some of you that seems young, but to me it feels like the scale is already tipping toward old. Toward what I have accomplished versus where I imagined I would be. I graduated from college at 20. I thought I would have my doctorate, or be almost done with it. Instead I have two more semesters in my masters program, and my long-held dream of being able to put two little letters in front of my name is on the shelf until further notice. I’ve tried to extinguish the idea through rationality – it’s impractical, your pay won’t even increase, so much life to give up for some initials. But last week someone asked if I had plans to pursue it, and my answer fell out instinctively, “Yes, I’ve always wanted to.” I don’t know when or how or where – but someday I think that knowledge and title might be mine. Or not. Maybe I’ll finally make peace with it not being necessary. Life is weird and all that.
I hear all of my friends pining for some form of where they thought they’d be though. A career that pays enough to not have to decide which bills to cover or skip. A house and mortgage. A ‘they’re gonna stick around’ kind of relationship. Tiny humans to cuddle.
Reality isn’t what we painted with our rose colored minds.
I don’t know how I feel about you, twenty-four. I’ve always admired the people who seem to embrace each passing year and relish that they are in fact, 365 days older. I’m not this person. After twenty-two I decided that it was all pretty much a downhill tumble into old age, and I didn’t care much for that. Maybe I’ve taken one too many psychology courses on “Life & Development.” But I’m not much for negativity either.
On the other hand, birthdays are my favorite. Practically a national holiday. Let’s shout it from the rooftop, and eat cupcakes until the sugar zaps through our veins like the confetti I want to throw. If you don’t love your birthday, I will love it for you, my friend.
Because existing is pretty spectacular,
and birthdays are a way to clap back at all the nonsense,
and celebrate that very most basic of things, being alive.
But still. Twenty-four, I meet you simply for what you are, and that’s day one. One day. I have no idea what you hold, or any of the 364 days that follow. So what’s it gonna be twenty-four?
Twenty-four, I hope you bring strength. Strength to keep making the choices that make me give a resounding YES, and the ability to pass on what often looks great, but isn’t really for me. Twenty-four, I hope you bring discipline. Discipline to disappear into writing and workouts because this is what keeps my energy on point. Twenty-four, I hope you bring joy as I finish a three year graduate journey, and courage as I accept the title of clinical social worker. Twenty-four, I hope you bring nerves of steel to keep dancing over fears’ snares and reaching toward all that lights me up.