"It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are." – e. e. cummings
Plainly spoken, without any flowery language or utilizing a really snappy string of adjectives, I went through the holiday weekend feeling a frump-ness that I haven’t quite felt since 19.
Ok, maybe not 19. Maybe just since April.
Being 19 was like living on another planet. I was in college at the time, which for me was a detox, a recovery period, from high school. High school was strictly about survival and it was only until college that I actually found more than two people that were interested in the same stuff I was: making fun of Mary Higgins Clark, "greeks" and anything on the radio. I think it made us feel important and like we belonged to a group of people that were really too smart, that found it absolutely necessary to question the homogenized population and what they liked. There was a bond made literally out of hating things and liking stuff no one had ever heard of, or listening to Cash Money Millionaires because it was ‘ironic’. How absolutely shallow and what a great time.
But that’s what my 19th year was about: making poor decisions and being able to justify them based on my group of friends doing the exact same thing. We did everything together, so it stunted my guilt of making bad decisions because there were a half dozen other people doing the same things and there was always someone to eat with and be vegan with. Then I moved away four times. Then I graduated twice. Then I got married and became an adult that gets excited about new dining room furniture and grocery shopping. And, sometimes, I’m jealous of the people who stayed behind, still in the group mentality, who kind of never graduated, never moved on, never started listening to the radio.
And so it goes. Without some sort of glue of school, work or marching band, people fall apart, break up, move away, find new things to do. I’m left with these strange remnants of friends groups that were formed under a common bond that is no longer there.
Being an adult doesn’t help. In a way, being a student for the majority of life is somewhat debilitating. I know I wasn’t prepared for the shock of so many changes at once: change of work environment, adding 6 more ounces of coffee per morning, spending money on sensible shoes instead of bender-fuel, worrying about boring things like insurance and flooding basements and an increase in stress-relieving cheeseburgers while still trying to maintain a size 6. I do love having a career that is fulfilling, challenging and having something that I worked hard to get, but there are time where I miss that group mentality, forming a coalition of people that hated exactly who and what you hated and that thought alone brings you together on balconies and to crappy apartments and late night diners with coffee and cigarettes as actual dietary staples. Now something bugs you, but Cindy moved to Milwaukee and DeeDee married a jerk you can’t stand and Jerry has a second job and it’s Tuesday anyway so you have to swallow your angst til you have time to have a meltdown for the weekend, but once Friday gets here you either forgot about it or you’re too tired to deal with it, and you can't drink caffeine late at night anymore because you need your sleep! So instead, you make indifferent to good decisions about your life, like doing laundry before you have to wear your swimsuit underneath your clothes instead of talking someone’s ear off at Waffle House til 4 a.m. because you can.
Yes. Sometimes, I miss having time to thug out my angst on one too many coffee refills to an audience of kids that felt exactly like I did. Maybe they did. They probably did.
But what’s the alternative? Being a regular at Steak and Shake to write tragically in my livejournal about how life is soooo complicated, updating Face Book with Modest Mouse lyrics about how things are soooo hard? I’m annoying myself. It’s the time in my life that I need to do something, move on, MAKE something instead of wallowing in how hard it is to do all of that. It’s always going to be hard or you’re not paying attention. With or without a constant Yukon full of close friends, life is a unhealthy relationship that makes me feel amazing and confused and sad, sometimes within the same day on a non-full moon night. And if I remember to look around instead of looking back, it’s constantly obvious that even though not everyone is together anymore, I have to start to be overwhelmingly thankful for all the pieces around the county/country that care about me more than what I used to be, because by default I don’t whine as much or talk in Bright Eyes lyrics.
Clarity reached by an afternoon of coffee and conversation between a poodle-labrador mix and a babyhead and now I'm ready to celebrate the fact that I DID find myself. I GOT something out of my student loans and became a better version of Sarah because I've stopped talking (so much) and started doing (at least something). Maybe that’s not what Saves the Day songs are made of, but, thankfully, I can’t be a Saves the Day song forever. Thank god for that.