Pandora is awesome. I listen to it in my car almost every day and let it feed the questionably unhealthy nostalgia I cling to, through my music choices. If it didn’t come from 2001 – 2005, I’m probably skipping or “disliking” the song.
Driving along, just as I made a left, passing both my high school and middle school, one of my old favorites was playing. Brand New’s Soco Amaretto Lime, a quiet acoustic song tied to many fond old memories with longtime friends. I sang along, as I always do. I am an aficionado of loud car-singing.
“I’m gonna stay eighteen forever/so we can stay like this forever/and we’ll never miss a party/cause we keep them going constantly…”
In spite of myself I laughed. I just turned thirty-two. Eighteen was fourteen whole years ago. As I sang the familiar words, I thought of what it was like to sing this song at twenty-two, when its album was only four years old. At twenty-two, I didn’t quite get the appeal of being “eighteen forever.”
Cool things were happening in my life at that point in time. I’d graduated from college, started a job, and felt the infinite freedom of living in a place where the beach was ten minutes away, and late nights turned into morning sunrises. I thought at twenty-two, I knew just how life was going to play out. Everything was made of awesome, then soaked in booze, and resulted in little-to-no consequences. I didn’t even get hangovers back then. I thought I was some kind of medical miracle. An anomaly. Or a superhero, with a strange, somewhat useless super power. I was blissfully unaware that when I reflected on twenty-two, my feelings would be a little bit different.
Then, still singing, I began to think about what being “eighteen forever” means at thirty-two.
Thirty-two means “eighteen forever” is a lot more appealing.
At thirty-two, being eighteen seems to mean less of everything. At eighteen, there was less responsibility. Less alarms being set. Less bills. Less worries. Less concern about how awful it would feel in the morning if I ate a heaping plate of diner mozzarella cheese fries, while I was too drunk to feel feelings, at 4AM.
Of course, eighteen did mean more time with friends, and a faster metabolism.
So, what’s awesome about NOT staying eighteen forever? About aging awkwardly and ceaselessly?
At eighteen, I drove a crappy car, whose belt screamed like a banshee every time I approached my friends’ homes to drop them off late at night.
At eighteen, I lived with my mom, and had to sneak alcohol into the house when she went to bed early.
At eighteen, nothing I owned was really MINE. It was all borrowed. Borrowed living space. A car registered and insured under my dad. A collection of Christmas and birthday gifts. Nothing that I truly worked for and OWNED myself.
In my thirties, as much as I try to deny my “advanced age,” I’m coming into my own. I’m finally completely comfortable with being goofier and quirkier than most. And I OWN stuff. I own my car. I have an apartment. I own my furniture. I own my career successes. I take CARE of things. I keep a clean home. I discuss finances and futures with my wonderful friends.
Given the chance, I’d still try to talk eighteen-year-old me into not signing those student loan contracts! Woman! Go to community college for two years! Save your thirty-two-year-old self from the crushing weight of educational debt!
But eighteen-year-old me would have never listened. She had no worries, no concerns, and she was listening to her music full-blast in her 1986 Nissan Sentra with the cassette adapter and a primitive MP3 player.
I still sing as loud, if not louder, than eighteen-year-old me sang. And I’m cool with that.