Oh to be 23!
…And to be aware of what a light and free and generous time of life this is. My career? My love life? My biological clock? None of this concerns me much. Perhaps it should. I don't care. I am unencumbered. I love my life and its fullness—a flighty fullness like an escaped balloon rather than an after-dinner belly.
We all have to eat. We have to rest. We need money, we need social interaction, we need alone time, we want to fuck, we have to breathe, we want to sit around and get high and listen to music all day long. Balancing all this used to be something I struggled with and stressed over: Run or rest? Read or write? Write or draw? Work or play?
Every decision carried the weight of a declaration: If I chose to write and not draw then I was a writer and not an artist. If I chose to stay in and not go out then I was antisocial. If I chose to sneak out to see ONE and not sleep over at Sasha’s then I was that kind of girl.
But at 23 these choices hardly seem relevant. It’s “yes, and” to everything, and lo: there’s been a pleasant effortlessness to my achievements lately, as if the choosing itself were holding me back. 23 is a bottomless pit—nothing I consume weighs me down. I have so much more room in me than I used to.
* * *
At 17 I was a brooding, moody teenager. I felt a heavy, spiteful unencumbered—a don't-owe-nothin'-to-know-no one, fuck-it, nauseous kind of lightness.
At 22 and working hard on a farm, I longed for the good life I had in college: "a lot of freedom and not much responsibility," as my dad so aptly put it. But back in college, I wasn't walking around in awe of my freedom—I didn't feel that lightness in my bones like I do now.
Girlfriends nearing the end of this fine decade tell me that their clocks are ticking. Someone who would know told me that at a certain age, women feel an almost sexual desire to procreate. Sexual! What a strange application. The only sexual desire I’m feeling right now is for sex. These women are looking for not just a lover but a father, and when they meet a man, they can see the long shadows his shortcomings cast on their future.
So remote that it feels almost unfathomable is a life with my own crop of those coveted little beings. Friends who’ve crossed that divide say simply that “everything changes,” and then they get silent and contemplative and I can feel the great distance between us.
Over on this side of the divide, I wonder: is it my age or my outlook? I’m not quite sure, but I can say this: between the heavy past and the looming future, I’m finding the present pretty palatable. Let everything change when it changes, but for now: 23! And to know how good I have it!