Thoughts on 23 and Hopes for 24.

So, I’m 24 now.

These are some of the thoughts I wrote down throughout 23, and now that I’m 24, I thought I’d share them.

—–

There will be nights when you’re so lonely you’ll want to throw up, smash your body up against a strangers, draw the nicotine back up to your lips — but you won’t do these things. You’ll toss and turn in bed, arms empty of all the vices you crave, and eventually fall asleep. You’ll blink your dreary eyes open the next blessed morning, alive to face it all again, whether you like it or not, and think yourself stronger for the absence of all of these luxuries – the love and lies and coping mechanisms we all depend on.

Someone will ask you if you go to church, and the only response you’ll give is a glorious, “Um. Nope.” You’ll feel less guilt about this response than you would have felt a year ago, less self-loathing for not reaching an impossible standard you’ve held yourself up to your entire life. You’ll finally just let yourself be. And for now, at 24, that is enough.

You will still feel so uncertain about love, about what it means to care about someone romantically. You’ll meet new people and try them all on for size, realizing maybe there will never be a perfect fit. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe love isn’t about a perfect fit anyways.

There will be new boys and new kisses. You will feel your heart grow back to a safer size than it ended at 22. You will realize it’s okay to want someone, to desire the company of another person, to actively seek it out.

In this exploration, you’ll be reminded that caring about other people is not easy. It takes work to ask, to show concern, to pry your desperate hands off of your own selfishness. It’s not an easy business, caring about other people, and you won’t master it this year. But you’ll work harder to try and understand it. To care, even when it’s easier to close your eyes and ignore the problem.

In the wake of college, you’ll try freelance, pick up full time work instead, try to follow your creative pursuits after hours, but mostly end up binge watching Scandal.

You’ll move from a shared house with four other people to a teeny-tiny studio apartment, and in all honesty, you’ll love it, even as you begrudgingly watch rent eat up your paycheck every month.

You’ll start running, beating your feet to the melodies of strong women. You’ll sweat and smell and not put on makeup and wear socks with your damn sandals, because honestly, fuck it, your worth is defined by your perception of yourself anyways. Want to be a badass? Want to be strong? Decide you are and just try live accordingly. (Or, as Neil Gaiman suggests, imagine what a strong person would do, and then just try to do that.)

You won’t read as much as you want to, but when you do, you will feel better. Try to do this more often in 24.

Try to make 24 the year where you actually do the things you’ve been dreaming about. 23 was about building the foundation. Bridging the gap between initial post-grad life and whatever comes next. But you’ve laid that groundwork now, so go and do more. Write the article. Sing the song. Talk to the stranger.

Live your life with arms wide open. Today is where your book begins.

Ha.

But don’t let the year go by without accomplishing something more.

And, just for kicks, make this post to hold yourself to it.

 

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Today.

Today, I will eat the whole chocolate bar and not feel bad about it.

I will try to walk as much as possible, but not kick myself if I fall a little short from my usual goal.

I will clean the bedroom, the bathroom, the sink and the carpet – but not worry too much about the kitchen, the hallway, the living room.

I will wash my hair but not worry about styling it.

I will be productive, but also watch Sex and the City. And press play on the second video, just because I can.

March Winds

It’s windy in Southern California tonight.

The air pours across the sky, dips and dives between the rivets of houses, blends her way through my hair, around my collar, up my nose, into my lungs, and —

settles suddenly.

And what happens in this settling?

Absence, anticipation, longing.

Everything is magic for a moment, suspended between action and inaction, until she gradually whips up again. She carries my feet forward, pushes gently at the backs of my arms, saying go – go faster! Run!

And I do. I pick up my pace, and my feet beat against the dried leaves and concrete beneath me, and “Holocene” pours through my headphones, and I’m flying, and I’m happy, and I’m feeling so alive, and so full, and also so empty, knowing that this moment is temporary, destined to end soon, maybe even before the song ends.

One of those days.

Today was one of those days. The whole expanse ahead of me, free for the taking, grasping, filling, experiencing, living —

and I sat, looked out the window, into the tea, ate another biscuit and twiddled my thumbs.

There are so many things to do, to create, but I forget to start any of them.

I’ve been sitting here, scrolling through a variety of sites, telling myself to close the computer, open the book, paint the canvas, knit the scarf, and yet here I am, dumbly reading about celebrity romances of the past, taking another buzzfeed quiz, telling myself just fifteen more minutes, just fifteen more minutes, just fifteen more minutes.

It’s been a whole day of fifteen minute increments and I haven’t done a single thing.

Even this post falls into the trap. What have I told you, if not the same thing over and over, altered slightly, but still dictated by commas, run on ideas, lists to better hone the sentiment?

I’m going to put on my slippers and get the mail.

You are going to fail.

As inevitable as spilling coffee on yourself before work,

as telling the woman at the concession stand to enjoy the movie too,

as dropping the overpriced mug you just bought on the hard tile floor,

as checking his instagram the day after you breakup,

as bleeding through the tampon,

as sleeping though the alarm,

as ruining the white shirt,

tripping on the crack

forgetting the name

deleting the draft

arriving late —

Yes. You are going to fail in these ways and much, much worse.

But here’s the catch, the redemptive loophole, the end left open for your own interpretation:

Your potential is more resilient than your failure.

Bend, stretch, bounce your soul  — beauty lingers there yet.

Life doesn’t always suck!

It’s incredibly easy for me to get stuck writing about the worst moments of my life. I find those the ones that typically require the most processing, and oftentimes I do that through writing and chronic oversharing.

I want to feel less alone. I want to be understood. I want to find out if my own personal dramas are connected to the universal human condition, or just weird side effects of being Kristy.

And so I complain. And I weep. And I judge quickly. And I scrape the bottom of the cauldron filled with my dark, ooey-gooey feelings and pull them up for everyone to see, hoping that someone else will say that they, too, feel the same dark, ooey-gooey feelings.

Here’s the truth: life doesn’t always suck!

You read a book that makes you smile, or look at a picture of a kitten and a bunny HUGGING EACH OTHER (seriously, this exists, check it out), or you get the job after months of being rejected, or you turn the fan on after an hour of trying to get comfortable in the stuffy room, and you realize it’s not so bad, this life. At least not all the time.

There are people who smile, and there are walking trails, and there are sunsets and sunrises and vanilla chai tea and drawings made by your little cousin.

There’s nothing much more to this post than that – the acknowledgement that even horrible periods allow for moments of breath. Time, in all it’s typical rudeness in moving on so swiftly, doesn’t allow for endless negativity. A laugh or a wink or a smile or a peace will pop up eventually.

Cling to the hope of that inevitable upturn.

My life at 23.

I’m 23 years old now, according to Pacific Standard Time on planet Earth, where we distinguish age through increments of 365 days, which are each individually composed of 1,440 minutes, which are composed of 60 seconds, and so on.

I just finished reading Slaughterhouse-Five a few days ago. So it goes.

I’m lying in bed right now and everything feels anticlimactic and overwhelming all at once. Nothing has changed in the last five minutes. As per usual, I’m still me. And that, in and of itself, can sometimes feel like a whole load to bear.

I’m trying to remember what I was doing when I turned 22. I would have been at school, in my university apartment. I can’t remember exactly what I was doing in the moments of title change, though.

Right now I feel burdened by everything I haven’t yet done. Everything I may never do.

I’m currently a freelance filmmaker, also known as a mostly unemployed, typically underpaid, sometimes busy, often confused creative type with just enough remnant optimism to hope my art matters, and just enough life experience and reality bruising to feel the sheen of optimism glistening a little less vibrantly than it did four months ago.

Fuck errythang.

I’ve been crying a lot lately, so much so that even when I’m not crying, I can feel the well inside of me brimming, waiting for something — anything — to tip me over and spill emotion everywhere.

I have lived a privileged, sheltered life. I fear, sometimes, that because of this, I make myself feel horrible about otherwise inconsequential situations, just because I haven’t experienced anything more dramatic. I blow things out of proportion, if for no other reason than to feel more deeply than the events of my ordinary life necessitate. Oddly, this seems to have a numbing effect, like a wound rubbed raw.

I’m moving out soon. I’m moving out soon and to be honest, I don’t have my shit figured out yet. I feel conflicted.

I hate the idea of breaking my parents’ hearts. I think they anticipated me staying at home longer than I am. I think they anticipated me staying until I had an actual plan mapped out — one more detailed than a big circle surrounding the words “find job.”

I feel grimy. Sick. Anxious. Sad. I want to move out. I crave that independence, I crave living closer to my creative connections, I crave the shorter commute into LA. But I don’t know if my parents understand that. I don’t know if they can see that this has nothing do to with them, and everything to do with my own needs, my own desire to find my way in this world, even if it means fucking things up along the way. I can’t deny the selfish nature of this.

I wish I could have hindsight now. I wish I knew NOW if this is a good idea or a horrible idea or an immature idea or an idea that I really do need in order to step closer towards my future. It’s not logical to move out of a loving, easy, generous living situation into one that is so uncertain and undefined and amoebic. It is very possible that I will fall on my ass and crawl back home in a really pathetic manner.

I’m also coming to terms with the fact that I may never “make it.” Fame and celebrity for their own sake have never attracted me. But I’m going into an industry where success is inevitably dictated by the size of the audience you reach.  I can write stories and convey human experience — but what does any of it mean if other people don’t connect to it? If other people don’t see the validity, the beauty, the intent?

Everyone wants to be the fucked up voice of their generation, myself included, but there’s no way we could all possibly be it. And there are people more competitive than I am, more talented than I am, more driven, more extroverted, more self-starting. I fear giving my all to something and failing, but also fear that in doing nothing, I’ve already failed.

God, life is just fucking weird right now. It would be nice to fast-forward time and see it all figured out. Or maybe it would be depressing and scary because maybe in five years, my life won’t be all that great. Ugh. Who fucking knows.

Wavelengths.

It’s the day before you break up with me and I’m sitting in the car with my mother. We’re stopped at a red light and she asks about you excitedly. I don’t date much. This is as new and fun for her as it is for me.

“So, what do you like about him?” She presses, a smile dancing on the corners of her lips.

I think about it. I think about our dates, about your style, about the way your hair falls. I think about texting in haikus, about our political beliefs, about the pictures we send each other. “I just feel like we’re on the same wavelength,” I eventually respond. “We just get each other.”

Maybe that’s how I knew, driving out to Long Beach the following evening, that you were going to end it. You hadn’t done anything juristically different that week, only mentioned you were tired, a bit stressed by work. It was just an inkling, just an itch at the back of my brain, but somehow I felt it — What if he breaks up with me tonight?

The diner is grimy but likable, hundreds of pictures anarchically filling the walls. You order a burger. I order a salad and blueberry pie. We make small talk about our days, our weeks, work, school. I can tell something is off and you can tell that I can tell that something is off and so we both ignore it as we sit peaceably in the booth with puffy plastic-lined cushions. It’s not the right time. Not yet.

After we finish we walk to the beach behind the building. It’s solitary. The sun, bleeding out her radiant glow, abandons us as she dips below the horizon line. You grip my hand tightly and I know you’re anxious.

We walk up the beach, mounting and descending the small hills of sand. It’s not romantic — the grains sting my feet and I’m out of breath in a few minutes. You talk about feelings you don’t understand, and I listen intently as you struggle to articulate, as you attempt desperately to better explain the ambiguous descent. I appreciate the effort, but you don’t need to finish for me to understand where the conversation will land us.

Your hands, once so welcome, feel misplaced on my skin now. I shrug them off only to find the chill of their absence worse. I want to reach out, place my hand back in yours, press my face to your chest, but it feels wrong. I know now, even before we’ve said it, that you’re not mind to touch anymore.

The problem with waves is that they crash. The tides endlessly pull them in and out, shift them around, upturn them and unfurl them and tumble them into and away from one another. I always believed we were on the same wavelength, and maybe we were. But the wave eventually crashes into the flat, dampened sand, as predictable and inevitable as nature and all her algorithmic processes.