When You Are Living In Your 20th Summer

You will be right in the middle of your 20th summer when you realize that everything’s changed. And it’s only because you pushed it and pulled it to change.

You will take out the trash in your apartment and, along with it, familiarity. You won’t be comfortable, but you will be content. And you won’t be lonely, but you will make peace with being alone. You won’t spend this summer escaping sources of authority, or sleeping excessively. You will work. You will work Monday through Friday. You will pick up smoking again, dedicating each cigarette to each new source of worry. You never worried before, but now you will worry. You’ll worry about rent money, and keeping in touch with your mother, and what you might do next.

You will spend every one of your weekends with the same few people. This is not because of coincidence or convenience, this is because they matter. Some weekends you will spend alone. You will bask in the limited amounts of time you have. You will make the time to do grocery shopping, to buy yourself one nice thing, to put a reasonable amount of money aside, to check your bank account three times a day, to take the dog on a walk, to search unsuccessfully for inspiration, to start to bake something, to give up on baking something, to write something, or anything. You will begin to write a letter to someone you care about, only to realize you cannot put the current into words. Friends will need you less and less, but when they do need you, it will be more important than it’s ever been. You will feel like you have nothing new to think or to say.

You will become less eloquent, somehow. Do not worry about this. This will be temporary. You will consider going back to school, applying, transforming back into a student, rather than a dropout. This is not as important as it may seem. Give this time. Don’t rush this, or any, decision. Everything will sound inaccurate. You will gain seven pounds and wonder how and why. You will become concerned with losing this weight, but you won’t actually do anything about it. You will assume you’re only growing prettier. You will wonder if this is actually the case.

You will put less effort into the things you wear. Only, there will be one morning upon which you wake up feeling lovelier than ever before. The things that never mattered seem to matter even less. Your ex-boyfriend will tell you that he still loves you, that he misses you, that he’s coming to spend days with you. Do not pay much attention to this; do not give yourself to him again. He is lying to both himself and to you. You will become an idea to him, something brave and distant and enigmatic. Yes, you will be all of those things, but you will also be more. Your relatives will ask you when you’re coming home to visit, and you will tell them that you don’t have any idea, and that will be the truth. Your friends ask you again why you left, and you will tell them again why you left. Your foundations will be nonexistent, you’ve uprooted yourself, the way only daring things do. You are in no way tame or boring or lifeless. You picked up everything, and took nothing, and you ended up here. This, all of this, is new. You are right in the middle of your 20th summer, and you are enveloped in your own independence, and you are relentlessly okay. TC mark

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