I write this from my bed—my hand-me-down mattress with expensive West Elm sheets—because I don’t yet have an office. My dogs are sitting and begging for my dinner, which consists of a bottle of semi-expensive cabernet sauvignon, purchased in the one and only Napa Valley Wine Country, and bowl of Ramen noodles, purchased at the local Winco. My face is freshly cleaned because I work hard to take good care of my skin and my hair is greasy because I cannot be bothered to shower more than once or twice a week.
This is me, reporting from twenty-three, and confirming that it is all just one big paradoxical joke.
I am almost everything. I am almost successful, almost fulfilled, almost settled, and almost perfectly content. I can almost pay every bill I receive and—I say this filled with pride—my mid-range sedan is fully paid off but I have no idea how I will pay for the concealer I so desperately need (want). I just started wearing a nightly under eye cream to halt wrinkles in their tracks because last week I woke up with sleep wrinkles and they lasted for three hours. I am so young and for the first time in my twenty-three years on this planet, I feel as though I may be getting older.
Last week, I looked in the mirror of my soon-to-be-remodeled master bathroom and saw my mother’s chest.
Last week, I looked in the mirror of a bathroom in a hole in the wall bar and saw my youthful cheek bones.
I don’t know what I am but I know that I am twenty-three and that scares the shit out of me.
I am far too young to change the world but I am far too old to develop new dreams, so says everyone I meet; when you are twenty-three, people sure do have a lot to say, you see. I buy my groceries every week—plenty of veggies and protein because healthy bodies are important, I’ve learned—with hard earned money from my checking account that regularly overdraws because I don’t quite know how to manage my funds. I go to bed far too late every night because I am slightly irresponsible and get up with the sun every morning because I have shit to do and tasks to conquer.
It is so strange to be so young and be so old all at the same time. I am old enough to make all my own decisions and young enough for those decisions to often be the wrong ones. I can’t decide. Ever. On anything. I have spent the vast majority of my “adulthood” swearing off pink and only buying black and last week, I slipped into something pink and satin and fell in love. I don’t even know what colors I like. As a matter of fact, not even my dreams are permanent and I often wake up wondering how I got here and how I can possibly relocate. I want to stay and I want to go.
I have seen more of the world than most people get to in their lives yet I’ve seen barely any of it. I have visited ten countries and when people ask me if I could go anywhere in the world, where would it be, I say I don’t know but the real answer is I would go home and snuggle my tiny little family. People tell me I am too young to be married but I have been married for five years. People tell me I am too old to not be thinking about children but often my dogs are even too great a commitment. I don’t own a business. I dream of a million different ones, but keeping up on a blog is all the business I can stand. I started writing nearly twenty years ago and still don’t know my style.
This is me, reporting from twenty-three, and it is the most confused I have ever been.
I am old but I am oh so young.
Half of my friends are parents and the other half are hammered every weekend, and I still wonder what I will be when I grow up. Two days ago, it hit me all at once like a punch in the gut that I was twelve eleven years ago and for some reason, that rattled me deep down.
I am the strongest I have ever been in my entire life. Physically, I can lift and flex and fend for myself and I am proud. Emotionally, I cry nearly every single day but for the first time, I cry only for things that warrant my tears. Mentally, I am finally engaging in a literary community I have been hungry for since birth and most likely will be until death. And spiritually, ah, spiritually. What is strength but God’s merciful grace?
My marriage is strong. My confidence is strong. My sense of self is strong and my love for others is strong.
This is me, reporting from twenty-three, and it is a year filled with strength I have never known.
My home is beautiful and warm. My husband is handsome and kind. My dogs are well-behaved. My relationship with my parents and siblings is tops. My goals are beginning to take shape. I have finally forgiven a whole slew of people that have hurt me in one way or another and I think I am beginning to discover my opinions on some pretty big issues, although I am not quite sure.
I have no idea how to cook a turkey. I don’t know what to do if I spill red wine on my carpet. I haven’t a clue what a w-2 really is, only that it is a BFD. I am terribly afraid of spiders despite the fact that I know they can’t hurt me. My favorite food is still grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and I will still choose cranberry juice or chocolate milk over wine or alcohol any day of the week. I am not sophisticated in the least but I am trying.
This is me, reporting from twenty-three. It’s backwards, it’s in between, and despite all that, it’s really quite amazing.
Because in this world, filled with yes’s disguised as no’s and up’s disguised as down’s, there is a silent thirst for people who don’t pretend to have the answers. That is me, reporting from twenty-three. I don’t know a single thing, and chances are, if you are twenty-three, you don’t either, but I think that together, maybe we can figure it out. And maybe we can’t. But at least we will have one helluva time trying, because if I have figured anything out for certain, twenty-three is a damn good time.