My senior prom date, a now married mormon dad doctor person, sent me a Candy Crush Saga request so…yeah, I don’t think it’s necessary for me to attend my high school reunion.
Yesterday my new friend Taryn mused that she couldn’t really picture what twenty-two year old me was like. She didn’t have the pleasure of knowing me during my dumb ole days of being a silly young adult idiot.
Thinner? An awesome tan? Naive? A know-it-all? Not a particularly good judge of character?
I decided to pull a photo from the Facebook archives to best capture what life was like for me six years ago. I chose a photo of me from December 2007; on my way to a Spice Girls reunion concert in downtown LA because it was a great example of one of those nights where I felt what I later realized was a false sense of maturity. I believe that sums up what I was like at twenty-two, Taryn.
As I narcissistically fell into a wormhole of my own photographic history, I noticed a common motif: An American Apparel deep V-necked t-shirt. Sometimes in blue, black, or red, but mostly the clichéd heather grey. I knew it then, as much as I know it now; this t-shirt was my answer to sexy.
For whatever reason, I have always lived in crippling fear of being overdressed. Most people would tell you that they would rather be caught over dressed than under, but I am not most people. I have come to accept that my default personal uniform is a vintage t-shirt, jeans, cardigan and some sort of flat sneaker or moccasin type shoe. Variations on this palette depend on the occasion.
So for me, when American Apparel dropped onto the early-twenties something scene around 2005, their “revolutionary” basics became a coveted, albeit overpriced, go-to. Specifically I found the deep V-neck to be the answer to my ongoing wardrobe conundrum known as “the going out top.”
For those of you who did not experience college as a nineteen year old female, the “going out top” is usually sleeveless, sheer, low cut, flimsy, cheap, sparkly, black, and all around provocative. The lifecycle of a “going out top” ranged from one night to one month. Although I purchased and owned my fair share, I hated these stupid skank rags. It was around my senior year of college that I discovered the V-neck t-shirt and adopted it as the sexy, yet casual look I’d been longing. I could let my inflated cleavage be seen, while still wearing a conservative and comfortable tee? WINNER, WINNER.
In retrospect, I should have taken my Dad’s plea to cover up when wearing one around him as a sign. Perhaps that night my mother told me I looked slutty in my black V-neck, as I left the house to head out for a local bar right after college graduation, should have been a warning (albeit a unnecessarily rude one). Regardless, I clearly wasn’t being as covertly sexy as I had imagined, and only an older wiser person could see it. Now six years later, I understand what the V-neck meant to me, and how it defined a period of time in my life.
Twenty-two was a weird year because I simultaneously felt my best physically, and the worst emotionally. It was a time when I felt very sexually powerful and yet emotionally out of control. This schism caused me to make some questionable (I refuse to say regrettable because every situation is an opportunity to learn and grow) decisions, all while wearing an American Apparel deep V-neck.
My shirt choice was calculated in crafting a specific perception of myself. I desperately wanted people to be confronted with my sexual prowess, but also considered a casual girl who didn’t care. But I did care. I cared an awful lot to buy several of these shirts. I cared enough to make the decision to wear the seemingly harmless top out to a bar with red lipstick. I took shots that were ordered for me that I didn’t really want. I cared an awful lot to go out of my way to be nonchalant and available to this bartender I was into, even though he was emotionally unavailable and all around awful. But hey, I was still keeping it casual in a t-shirt. I wasn’t that girl who tries too hard; I hated that girl.
Like I said earlier, this was the year of a false sense of maturity. I don’t know ‘bout you, but feeling twenty-two does not have any real semblance to a Taylor Swift song.
As with every year of my life, I thought I knew everything. But my apparent wardrobe choices made it abundantly clear that I did not. Now all those precious shirts have been relegated to the drawer where old sorority shirts go to die. I no longer wear them anywhere but the gym or occasionally to bed. I no longer feel the need to even have “going out tops,” or feel compelled to threaten society with the fact that I have breasts and I know how to use them.
No, I don’t think much about what I wear to a bar anymore beyond concealing unwanted body lumps. I don’t need a certain type of clothing to express who I am; I can do that all on my own now that I’m a grown-up type person. I still feel good about myself physically, but emotional maturity has caught up with me, which provides much anticipated perspective.
And besides, I’m finally at an age where I totally know everything anyway…right?
I’m really awful at making play lists, which is fine because I am a grown person who can recognizes my poor party flaws. However, I can create an above average wish list. So instead of carefully curating a bunch of songs to communicate my current mood, I’m going to compile a list of wishes that best express my feelings.
(No doubt this is a vintage table with old photos…filled with old photos. I really like photos…and old things. But not old people.)
I just spent an hour downloading, sifting, organizing, and prepping photos to print off of my iPhone. I’ve been meaning to take the time to do this for well…months. And now that I’m all old and practical, I finally did it.
I had seven months worth of good times stored on my phone, and I live in fear that no matter how many times I back up, the number of external harddrives purchased, or how often I upload to THE CLOUD, photos will be lost forever and ever. In a box under my bed is really the safest place to store my most precious memories. I stand by this.
If there’s a fire, grabbing the photos has been my number one priority since I was a child. And as the adage says, people don’t change.
So, about once or twice (if I’m really ambitious) a year I print a bunch of photos. Most of them go to live under my bed in a photo box, while the elite get placed in picture frames around my apartment. The photos on display who weren’t making the cut quietly retire under the bedskirt.
I’m as technologically savvy as they come. When it comes to new platforms and tools, I’m typically an early adopter. But regarding photos…I take a strong stand for continuing the archaic practice of printing photos. No, I don’t mean actually developing film….That’s why Target exists.
I mean taking a roll of film, disposable camera, memory card, or thumb drive to CVS and order doubles, 4X6s, 5X7s, and maybe even wallets if you’re getting crazy. Then taking those photos home to live with you for eternity. Getting lost in my own photos from years past because I went to try and find one picture is one of my favorite activities.
I’ve tried to get nostalgic on Facebook, but it only goes back to a few select freshman year college photos, and back then we didn’t understand how to use it because it took a while for them to provide “albums.” Plus there were no filters.
But even so, nothing beats holding a tangible photo to bring out sense memories from the captured moments. The smell of my vintage prom dress. The way the ribbing on my cheap sorority apparel felt under my fingers. I treasure old photos, and can’t imagine showing my children how cool I was smoking a joint at Coachella digitally. It’s just…NOT COOL.
Although I do miss the mystery of a disposable camera, the artistic visual medium of choice in high school, I don’t miss getting doubles of every blurry photo just in case someone else wanted one (no one ever did). I find myself being more selective with the photos I want to print, carefully curating my life in a whole new way.
Dare I say, I’m finding a way to curate my offline content, much like I do with my online persona?
I don’t necessarily need to have hard copies of everything in my life, and I certainly don’t have time (or confidence to admit) to scrapbooking. But, I can’t move through the best years of my life without a few analog artifacts.
I’m caught in between the past and the future. Oh, I guess you call that the present. Yep, I’m fine right here.
Growing up, brushing your teeth was just the worst, but it was especially eye-rolling and foot dragging at bedtime.
At night you’d be warm from your bath, snug on the couch watching Nick at Nite, dozing during episodes of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. When you
your mother finally decided it was time for bed, the last thing you wanted to do was brush your teeth. It felt like the hardest thing in the world, the biggest inconvenience, torture, barbaric, inhumane, cruel, and all around unjust.
Thing is, IT STILL FEELS THAT WAY.
Maturity, independence, emotional stability, bills, bank accounts, relationships, careers, and every other milestone will never bring us closer to a life without pre-bedtime teeth brushing tantrums. It will never get better. In fact it gets worse, because now you have to make yourself go to bed, and there’s no one there to tuck you in.
It’s just you and the toothbrush.
Yesterday was the first full day of being a twenty-eight year old person, and it was awesome.
Aside from the usual Tuesday grind, I decided to go to not one, but TWO grocery stores. Feeling older and wiser, stopping at Whole Foods, “just for fresh produce” seemed like the right easy, breezy, bohemian, Anthropologie catalog adult thing to do. Although when my eyes cartoonishly bulged out at the forty dollar bill I racked up, it seemed like total bone head rookie move. I’m old now; I know better than to come to this money suck of a market!
Still, I had to make a second stop at Trader Joe’s for my weekly go-to pre-packaged foods because yes, I had already bought a bunch of fruit, and no I will not start cooking my own meals. I’m just not there yet. GIVE ME UNTIL 30, MKAY?
As I finished out the workday, I began to do my daily ritual of noodling between going to work out or not. Lately, I’ve been fairly good about erring on the side of physical activity, but yesterday I was still mentally riding the birthday princess wave, and successfully convinced myself that body combat class was counterproductive to my sunburn.
***Side note: As you get older, NOTHING makes you feel more stupid than getting a sunburn. It’s just unacceptable at this point. I’ve already abandoned my youthful tanning work ethic in favor of SPF 45 and a one-piece suit, because those Oil of Olay commercials are not just trying to sell you something; they speak sage truth about elastin. I’ve already accepted my fate that the birthday induced suburn will lead to a leather handbag chest and am feeling regret. But the beat goes on, you know?
And so I reconciled to forgoing the gym in favor of hummus and proceed to sit at my desk for far more hours than I intended without doing one thing that was productive, unless you count getting stood up by an out of town friend and video chatting with my friend who lives ten miles away.
I literally couldn’t get myself to act like a functioning person, instead melting into a blob while my hair accidentally got in the dip, fuming about being ditched, and giggling at my trying to set my friends up via Facebook. (REAL MATURE!)
This was my night until 10pm, at which point I decided to peel my butt off the chair and drive over to a comedy show with some friends. I had procrastinated washing my face all day, and didn’t allow any time for that sort of grooming before I left. So, I took off in the gross t-shirt I had been sitting in all day, and the makeup from my birthday party the night before.
And you know what? I didn’t care… at all.
About any of it! About not getting any work done, about eating too much dip, about not going to the gym, about getting ditched for some other person, about spending too long on the computer, about falling into a very deep Instagram hole, about not washing my face, and about not writing this blog last night.
I think your late twenties are literally about not caring, and it feels great (48 hours in.)