Home, Missing a Place That Doesn’t Exist
By: Tricia Callahan
A guy at a record store locked eyes with me and it took my breath away. It wasn’t love at first sight, but he had a striking resemblance to someone that I danced naked with in my bedroom four years ago. I can still smell the vanilla candle burning and hear Sublime with Rome rolling out of my laptop speakers.
Just one year after graduation, my life goals were reset. I found myself curling my hair and dating a younger guy who played baseball and smoked weed on school nights. I was the cool 17-year-old I always hoped I would be, except I was 22.
Now at the age of 26, college is a filing cabinet of memories: littering the parking lot with blue glitter from my Katy Perry Halloween costume, counting squirrels for sorority initiation, dirty Nirvana t-shirts, the warm smell of espresso, and the sweet lack of responsibility. I used to think those were the hardest years of my life.
After many break ups, going on food stamps, being under or unemployed more than four times and finding solace in whiskey, I have found life’s little sweet spot. I live in a beautiful, air-conditioned apartment. Need I say more?
But I get nostalgic from time to time.
I miss Virginia. I miss tests. I miss the dorm kitchen, and above all, I miss believing anything was possible. Life now is knowing that I am not the sum of my educational valor, nor only represented by my current occupation. My name is in a bucket of names who have achieved what I have achieved. I am whoever I say I am.
By: Brittany Adams
When I was in middle school, I pictured my adulthood so differently than it is now. I carried my dog-eared copy of Jane Eyre everywhere with me, consulting it for wisdom the way the pious peruse the Bible. I myself was a plain Jane, lost amid the sea of the better-to-do in my school on the nice side of town. On a near-nightly basis, my dad made sure to remind me of my tiny, insignificant place in the world. He was my Mrs. Reed. I clutched Jane to my chest and waited for my Mr. Rochester to come rescue me.
Within my first year of college, my high school sweetheart left me high and dry, with nothing but a now-meaningless engagement ring. I was crushed. Even the buffet-style dining hall couldn’t console me. I lost entire pant sizes. There was no reason to go back to Jane, though. I’d never find anyone the way that Jane found Edward. I knew it was all bullshit, right then and there. Adulthood in the 21st century isn’t a novel, much less a 19th century one.
Adulthood isn’t finding your Prince Charming, riding up on a white horse like a knight. Adulthood is taking a pregnancy test in the Walmart bathroom and crying alone in your car because the father’s done with you. Adulthood isn’t finding your dream job. It’s waking up every morning at 6am to go clean cars for ungrateful people going on vacations you could never afford. Adulthood isn’t partying with your friends like there’s no tomorrow. Adulthood is feeling your male friend’s uninvited hand slide down the back of your pants and wondering if he’ll even let you have a tomorrow. Adulthood isn’t having a full refrigerator or even a steady supply of eggs or milk. It’s eating ketchup packets and croutons at your full-time job because you’re still too poor to buy food.
In the midst of all the turmoil, I switched gears. Why face everything that was happening, when I could simply forget? Cue the beer-and-whiskey soaked nights of smoking weed and doing drugs with strangers. Anything was fair game, because I needed to forget. I needed to drown out the voices of my dad and the men and the fellow women who labelled me worthless, a slut or guilty. In the circle of weed, coke and fake friends, I was cool. I was so cool. But I learned the hard way exactly how quickly things can go from carefree Lana del Rey lyrics (“taking drugs, doing shots, making out in parking lots”) to Requiem for a Dream. In a matter of moments, my car was destroyed and I was on my way to jail.
That night was the wake up call I needed though. Adulthood is a bitch, but the only way to go through it is presently. Numbing all memories and sensation isn’t living. Avoiding attachment with people isn’t living. I realized I needed to dive back in; I needed to feel again. One day I picked up my old, creased copy of Jane Eyre to see what she had to say about it.
“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”
You’re right, Jane. I am a tough bitch.
Why My Twenties Are Not My “Selfish Years”
By: Savannah Schepp
Are you there God? It’s me, Savannah. Okay, I don’t pray. But maybe now would be a good time to start. I’ve felt more in the past year than I’ve felt in my entire life.
They tell us college will be the best times we’ll never remember. After all, our twenties are supposed to be our greedy years. The movies I, and every other Gen Y watched growing up projected images of keggers, costume parties, sexual experimentation, and trips abroad to discover oneself. Buried beneath GRE prep workbooks and oversized tees marked with pit stains, I face an unnamed feeling located somewhere before spite and after regret. I should have spent Spring Break at The Palazzo. I should have indulged in pounds of authentic gelato and hella uncircumcised European shlong during the Maymester. I still don’t know how to play Circle of Death at house parties, and I’ve yet to really slut it up. Am I doing something wrong? I feel that my window of fun years will soon come to a close; twenty-two is the new thirty. Next year I will toss my cap into the air and kiss goodbye to all the chances I had to travel and enjoy life while I was still young and moderately good-looking.
Last month, I am advised by professors to abandon my aspirations of becoming a teacher. I finish up my semester with a 4.0. I learn the hard way that the guy I am seeing is into spit porn. It ends on a sour note. My best friend adopts a new sober lifestyle. I receive a toothless kiss on the face from a homeless man in broad daylight without my consent; I get in my car and ugly cry for an hour, but I’m not sure if I feel worse for myself or for him. I learn that the family dog died. They tell me her body was put in a freezer. The biggest man I’ve ever seen in my life asks me for a spot at the gym and I’m not sure if he’s hitting on me, or if I actually look like I can prevent two-hundred-pound dumbbells from falling on his face. We survive. I watch my savings dwindle. I miss you every damn day and I resent that. I get a shitty parttime job; I will tell you that it involves minimum wage and bagels and that is all. I quit after two weeks. At first I try to be polite and put in my two weeks, but the managers are spiteful so I throw away my hat and vow to never return to P B C ever again. I get another job tutoring a kid whose father insists his son must go to West Point, if not, then he will send him to Stanford, or Harvard, or Yale. The kid is smarter than me and doesn’t need my assistance with his schoolwork. I come home late from training on a Thursday night to a house party I was never invited to. A couple dozen pairs of eyes judge at me as I waft B.O. through my kitchen. I accidentally knock over a full Solo cup along with the MacBook and synthesizer of a young hipster who propped his disc-jockey setup on a beer pong table in front of my fridge. I wish I were kidding. My mother sends me a wedding invite with a hard-pressed “plusone” under which a thinly veiled questioning of her daughter’s sexual orientation lies. I try to flirt with someone new and I drop a Shakespearean one-liner on him and I don’t blame him for never talking to me again. One of my roommates leaves for the summer and I am relieved that my apartment is no longer going to smell like stale pizza and weed. Except my other roommate’s friend takes his place and he doesn’t pay rent, he smokes even louder weed, and he listens to Soulja Boy as if it’s still 2008. I go to an art exhibit by myself because I need to leave the house and it’s all so experimental; synthesizers hooked up to bassoons accompany bizarre performance art. A male resident artist dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz begins flinging yellow paint across the main gallery while Pink Floyd blares in the background and I wish I hadn’t spent five dollars on this freak show. I can’t help but feel that maybe I was gipped. Did everyone lie to me, or am I just doing young adulthood.
Which leads me to the glaringly flawed notion that our twenties are our YOLO years, our best years, or our selfish years. The voice encouraging sleepless nights and impulse decisions tells Dean’s List students that they’re somehow fucking up. There’s a lot of disenchantment involved in this ideology; the one that says fun is constrained to an eight to ten year time bracket. Who’s to say we can’t see the world during our thirties? A lot of us are living off of vacuumpacked noodles and tears. We’re trying to get multiple degrees, we’re juggling internships and a handful of jobs; this is our hustle decade. The various transitions from high school to college to grad school make for fleeting relationships. Often times it feels like people are in a constant flux between coming and going, sans pause. I hate to pout about it, but there is nothing stable about being twenty. If you’re financially independent, there’s actually a strong feeling similar to drowning.
At the end of the day, it’s okay. It’s normal to feel a little bit (or a lot of bits) lost. The movies didn’t warn us about the ramen diet or the crazy high rent. Aunt Jean doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about when she tells you to have fun while you’re young because she remembers an entirely different Americana—politically, socially, academically, and financially. So be a floundering fish out of water. Don’t let boys spit near your face. And try to catch some sleep after even the worst days. Because ten years from now we’ll still be standing, buried to the tits in student loan debt, but with no fewer opportunities to be selfish.