When You’re Just Another Lost 20-Something

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“I moved back home.”
The sentence I dread telling familiar faces I run into these days,
It is the phrase I quickly follow up with words like:
“temporary”
“just for the time being”
“putting away money while I can”
“liberal arts degree”

These words that sit waiting in my arsenal
Part of this script I practice so my voice won’t crack,
Won’t waiver.
Because most days, it does.

A girl who likes talking way too much,
and for the first time,
I don’t want to talk about this.
Let me stay quiet.
Shrink a few sizes smaller when I see the woman who used to cut my hair approaching me.
Assess the best escape route so she does not ask me what I’m doing.
She expects big plans from me.
They all expect such big things.
I’m not sure what I even expect from me.

My bedroom is different now.
The painted mural walls of fields and horses still sit in a home 20 minutes away.
I wonder,
if there is a child staring up at those blue ceilings, thinking about the impermanence of it all.
Maybe I was just a weird kid to sit and stare at ceilings
and think about things like
Death,
and the existence of nothingness.
I don’t think I appreciated having blue sky ceilings to ponder.
But I guess that’s the shittiest thing we learn growing up,
how often we don’t appreciate the blue skies we had.

I now share my room with an urn that contains half my father.
The rest, we scattered in the woods he played in as a child in Massachusetts.
Sometimes, I wish I could split myself in half like that.
There could be stable Ari,
The Ari who always has your back.
She’d get her 9-5 and not complain about her constant identity crisis.
She has a fucking job to do, and she does it.
Because she’s the one who sticks around.

She’s the Ari that stays.

But the scattered in the woods Ari is everywhere,
and nowhere at once.
The wind spread her in so many directions that you’d be hard pressed to ever find all her pieces.
A piece of spontaneity,
Of adventure.
She’s the Ari that considers living life her job.
The one you probably would roll your eyes at.
And make your jokes,
but at the end of the day,
there’s something you envy about a spirit so free.
She has no place she is expected.
But she is love,
and warmth.
And a fireball of unlimited ideas and potential.
They never quite grew in,
but somewhere beneath those shoulder blades
she’s got wings.

Two versions,
both fighting inside me.
Back at home,
in a home that was never really my home to begin with.

Here’s the lie they tell you about being in your early 20s:
It is the best time you will ever have.
They say you will never again
feel so light,
So uninhibited.
They say your 20s are when you don’t have to remember the night before,
You can kiss the stranger with a tongue that tastes like whisky.
Forget that you don’t understand how to pay your taxes
or what a 401k even is,
and kiss the stranger with the tongue that tastes like Hennessy.

They say you don’t have to know what you’re doing.
But the truth is,
not knowing what you’re doing can make the strangers tongue taste like a noose, and not whisky.
Not knowing who you are isn’t freeing,
it is suffocation.
Not knowing how you are supposed to become this person you clipped to a vision board decades ago
is not cute
or charming
or the plot of some sitcom with young professionals living together in a New York City apartment.
Being in your 20s
and being scared is not considered special.
You are made to feel like this is run of the mill.
Brush off your individual experience.
This is whiny youth.
This is privilege.
This is selfishness in assuming what you feel is different.
They just tell you,
“You are so young. You will never be this young again.”
I want to tell them,
Nothing makes a lost person
feel more alone
than telling them there’s no need to be found. TC mark

Ari Eastman

✨ real(ly not) chill. poet. writer. mental health activist. mama shark. ✨

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