What I Learned At 23

unsplash.com/Martin Miranda

I often watch my brother, high school aged, leave the house on a Friday night. He and his friends are not shy. Sometimes we see beer bottles in the recycling bin. Other times a trace of weed wafting from the bedroom.

For a while, I longed for my college days. The nights of sketchy house parties with sticky floors. $5 covers. Pizza on the way home. Or when we were all 21 and started leaving at 11:30. Home by 4 and somehow back up by 9.

We danced on tables. Hell, we danced under tables.

Many said they felt lost after college. Some back in our old rooms with old friends but adjusted curfews and new jobs. I often miss those nights out. Sometimes I don’t. I go to different bars with different people in different towns. It is fun, I think. Yeah, most of it.

I often wonder if I am having fun or just faking it.

I often wonder if I’ve forgotten how to tell the difference.

My body hurts more nowadays.

When I wake up on Sunday’s it’s late. At 10 am I feel like I missed the day. Most of my productive hours are around 8 AM. And if I’m not making breakfast by 7:30 AM, am I even really living?

In high school I hated breakfast. Every day I skipped. When I went to school, I ate a third of every food group and starved until dinner.

I said I was too busy to eat.

My social life killed. I was a dork among the nerds. A horde of theater kids entranced in Broadway and distracting ourselves from the future. Or maybe it was just me. Many of them have since fast-tracked their lives. Moved in with significant others. Own cats. Working towards “where the money is”.

Only a few years ago we were sitting on couches. The high was life. No alcohol. Drugs. Bars. Just movies and jokes. Times do change, I suppose. But is it for the better?

I can’t even tell.

We liked to wander through the streets. Stick our arms out of windows. Sing show tunes too loud. Every day an adventure. We were flamboyant and proud.

For birthday’s we hit up restaurants. The food seemed great then. Now I’m pretty sure it’s all trash. And I often feel sick when I eat too much bread.

I’d rather just cook.

I listen to a lot of podcasts now.

Health. Politics. Meditation.

I learn about everything. Each day I change.

The drinks have changed, too. Beers traded for coffees. Shots traded for cocktails. Nowadays we go out and just talk. It’s a change from the nights focused on hooking up, binge drinking, throwing up and forgetting it all by 10 AM.

I only remember certain nights out in college.

Silly card games we played at the table. Or freshman year when we played on the floor and laughed until we cried. And especially when it started snowing and we played in the snow. We were drunk, happy fools.

I also remember the bad nights.

The time I left alone at 4 AM without a friend. Or when I hid under the table from a guy. And nothing hurt more than crying in the bathroom after watching the boy I love kiss someone else.

So I add up the pieces. I string them together. I admire the patterns. The shapes. The colors blending together and fading with time.

I guess it was a connection that we really wanted. We learned memories are not formed when you can’t remember them and authenticity is not your outfit to the bar or the last person you kissed.

Today I choose to be humble. To wear my feelings and feel my gut. To strive for the life my body wants. To reject what I know I cannot accept.

This is life, my friends. Are you really living yours?

And so, it seems, on to 24. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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