I will develop a “bedtime routine.” I will make a diligent effort to wash my face every night before bed. I will dab anti-wrinkle cream on my fingers and gently trace circles onto my aging skin, like I’ve watched my mother do. Once a week, I’ll apply a facial mask that will require fifteen minutes of doing something else until it dries; something noncommittal like fixing a cup of tea.
Bedtime will arrive at approximately the same time every night, and I’ll wear something soft and feminine. It will probably be a cotton teddy with lace trim; it will be something I would wear out of the house if I were a few years younger. I will not sleep naked or in an ex-boyfriend’s t-shirt or in whatever outfit I wore to work/ the bar/ a date. I will sleep in my own bed. I will not let exhaustion/ laziness/ contentedness become an excuse for sleeping on the living room couch. I will not let the lull of infomercials carry me in and out of dreams.
My friends will get married, and I’ll attend their weddings without a date. I won’t lament attending weddings without a plus one. There will always be one good-looking bachelor, slated to be my partner in flirtation for the duration of the reception. We’ll both know how to slow dance. I won’t feel clumsy or out of place.
I’ll live alone, maybe. I will learn the correct way to paint a room. I’ll own a tool kit. I’ll never spend the day just existing, just doing nothing but breathing in and out and flipping through channels. There will be too much to accomplish. I won’t waste a Saturday. I won’t meet friends for brunch and find myself closing down a bar eight hours later. I’ll go to the Farmer’s Market before that happens – or the flea market, or the supermarket. I will have an income that will allow me to knock out all three in one weekend, if that’s what I want.
I will always have friends in my city. If one of them calls me up and asks me to come shopping or get a pedicure, I won’t have to turn them away. I will always have plans for the holidays. My parents will always send me a gift on Valentine’s Day with a card reminding me that they’re, collectively, my first Valentine(s). This will happen regardless of my romantic status, how old they get, how old I get.
I won’t remember what it feels like to have a broken heart. I will stop caring about the people I could not be with when I was younger. I will not wonder what they’re doing or feel empty when I hear that they’ve succeeded in building a life without me. I won’t “check in” or sob over photographs of them living new lives. I will fall in love, one final time. My parents will like him. We’ll take road trips to nowhere and dusk will be our favorite time of day.
Someday, skinny jeans and towering heels will go into storage for nine months. My closet space, once reserved for plunging tops and backless somethings, will belong to empire dresses and pants with elastic waistbands. I’ll be bloated and sore and fatter than ever, but everyone will say I’m “glowing” and I’ll accept it. My breasts will blow up, engorged with mother’s milk. I’ll give birth, and I won’t be mortified/amused by what excrement my child causes to escape/ is wearing all over its veiny, bloody little body. I’ll breastfeed myself down to a size 4; motherhood and stress and a boozeless 270 days will whittle my figure down to something it never was before. I will never wince at cellulite again.
I will pay off my student loan debt before I die. Eventually, I will stop thinking about how my monthly payment could’ve been better spent. I will be able to afford to go on trips that aren’t work related or paid for by someone else. I’ll be free from worry, from dread about the future. I will make a living. I will have an IRA. I will have CDs. I will invest in gold. I will have health insurance. I will have life insurance, because someday, other people will depend on me.
If I had to guess, I’ll live for another 60 years. I will grow wiser, more graceful. I will never hurt someone I love. I won’t die suddenly or tragically. It will become what other people expect of me; every passing year brings me closer to my temporary home at the crematorium. I’ll be sprinkled on a windy day, somewhere insignificant. My ashes will fly back into the face of the person releasing them, burning their eyes and affixing to their tongue like bitter, grey snowflakes. They’ll feel both scarred and grateful to have a funeral story to repeat at family dinners and after-work engagements. My final gift to the world.