A snapshot of my life at 20
It’s 4 am and I just crawled into bed with one of my best friends. She’s been asleep for a few hours, feeling tired from today because rent is due and all we have is rice and coffee. The duvet cover is off because I went to the laundromat too late and sat outside defeated while they shook their heads from inside. I lugged the overstuffed bag of dirty clothes back to my apartment, and had to remake the bed, but you know, the duvet is the hardest part, and I’ll do my laundry tomorrow.
I travel by foot or by train everywhere I go. Cars are rare because fares are expensive. Sometimes we will split if it makes sense- once I took an uber pool because it was late and the two trains from Brooklyn back to my place lured over my head with evil eyes and uncertainty. My feet were aching by this point, and I wasn’t sure if I could run if I had to. Of course, there are ten people in visual distance of me at any given time, but at 2 am that doesn’t feel like enough justification. I took an uber and felt bad- partly because my metro costs me nothing to swipe because I pay by the week and partly because there a girl in my same situation who really can’t afford car fare. But I think those are the only two times I took a car anyway.
I eat a lot of rice, bagels, and drink a lot of coffee. There are three other people living in my apartment so the fridge and pantry are crowded and it gives me the illusion of having food in the house, but often times none of it is mine. I really need to remember to go to the grocery store more often. I need to get vegetables. And more sweet chile sauce. It makes me want to eat more rice and I need to remember to eat better in between pancakes, donuts, and curry.
I spend a lot of time on my stoop or on my fire escape. The stoop is for roommate bonding time, everyone eating Ben and Jerrys vegan ice cream and laughing into 1 am. The thing about New York is that the nighttime is balmier than the day. I wouldn’t sit out at 2 pm and eat ice cream on my stoop but I do at 2 am. The fire escape is for ukulele strumming, journal writing, and emotional breakdowns. Up in the air things find their ground. Instability feels more stable when you are suspended by wrought iron on the side of a brick building.
I fall in love a lot, especially on the L train. It’s full of boys with glasses and girls with bangs- and I can’t resist either. Mostly I’m in love with my friends, and I try and remind them how much I love them daily. It’s easier to say after we’ve all sipped some wine and are spinning around the living room, the streets, the subway. Then it’s okay for me to tackle them and shower them with kisses, saying, “DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU!?”
I’m not in love in love, in the practical sense, as in I’m not dating, I’m in limbo. Tinder is too foreign and even though I’ve tried I feel shallow and empty minimizing a person to their chosen profile image on a platform rooted in one night stands. I met a boy at a party and a boy at the park but I just want guy friends right now, so I don’t offer my number right away. Maybe when it gets colder, but I’m not in any rush right now.
Some days I feel too old and some days I feel too young. It oscillates frequently. I see sixteen year olds recklessly, blindly in love and wonder what that’s like. I wonder if I missed out on adventure in my teenage years, like I missed the boat somehow or that stage of growing up, and I’m behind the times. But then I see an artist, a singer, a musician, a woman on the street with wisdom in her eyes, and I feel like I’ve barely started my life and know nothing. I stare into my vanity mirror and mutter “I’m so old.” And then jump on my bed after my roommate unexpectedly brings home ice cream and shout “I’m so young!”
My wardrobe is entirely thrifted and limited to about 25 pieces. That’s all that fits on my rack and in my short three drawer dresser. I have a favorite pair of jeans and a favorite sweater. I have a ring that I never take off and a collection of cool earrings. If I’m feeling soft and free I put on my houndstooth loose pants and a cable knit turtle neck, maybe even my glasses if I’m going for a walk and don’t have to do computer work (I have an astigmatism in my eye but it usually doesn’t bother me). If I’m feeling like a babe I put on my Jimi tee and thigh high purple suede boots. It’s a killer look, one that I save for special occasions, mostly held in Brooklyn. If I’m feeling girly I wear pink, blush as eyeshadow, dangly earrings, but I have to end it with my vans to ground it and make it feel a bit ironic. If I’m feeling strange I wore what I wore yesterday, because I can’t make decisions right now.
I don’t worry about money but I probably should. After I pay rent and have twenty dollars in my bank account, I think, oh! Twenty dollars! Enough for a used book and at least five coffees, depending on where I get them from and if I get almond milk. I should worry more about money, but I don’t spend much anyway, worrying would be senseless.
I get sad about things that don’t make sense. Today I got sad and felt like I had to clean the house to compensate. Sad is an inadequate word, so I try the best I can to conceptualize my feelings and speak them out. It doesn’t always work, but today I found common ground. I told a friend and she said she was feeling the same. The suspension of childhood and ascension into adult hood, and how being responsible makes you crave recklessness and vice versa. We always feel like we should be doing the opposite of what we are. It’s difficult to settle in and just be.
And this is me at 20.