Sunday, October 30, 2016

Let's talk about our twenties instead of watching the news

Just finished watching the last episode of the most recent Girls after a three-week binge starting in Season 3 due to a free HBO offer that expires tomorrow.  The show makes me miss my twenties, but never, ever wish to go through them again. In my twenties, I thought I just wanted to find a guy, marry him, and start having babies. Well, part of me wanted to do that. The other part of me, the one who was running the show, wanted to only date unavailable men, stay single, go to grad school, and keep moving. That part dominated until my late thirties (it's still there...though I have lost the need to destroy relationships. Or maybe I am moving on to destroying them at a much slower rate. You'd have to ask Dan). In my twenties, I always felt like I was behind. I wasn't far enough along in my career (what career?), I didn't have enough savings, I wasn't following the path that many of my friends were on; the path that worked to create families and stability.

Here are the guys I dated guys in my twenties (please note: "dated" signifies anything from one night hanging out together to a string of nights to a two year relationship: an Armenian dental student who told me my breasts were too big, a guy who was moving to Australia the next day, a married Irish cook at themed restaurant, three other bartenders from the same restaurant (one of whom was the long term--a not very tall Italian man who ran marathons and also drank half a bottle of Absolut vodka a night. He was handsome, compact, ten years older than me, and an alcoholic. And a writer. We had the most cinematic break up ever. Me, running away down the street in my pajamas after finding a hidden glass full of vodka and him chasing after me, calling my name. Cue Death Cab, except I didn't listen to Death Cab then. Cue Liz Phair. What happened to him? He died. I don't know how, but I Googled his name about five years ago and found his obit).

Where was I? A French orthodontist student who snorted cocaine on a coffee table on a Monday night and said, "What am I doing? I have lab tomorrow." A medical student who had a vanity license plate and whose ex-girlfriend's tampons were still underneath his bathroom sink. Her name was also Amy. He took me to meet his parents too quickly and left me to small talk with them while he washed his car. A Indian periodontal student who was allergic to my cats and so every time we tried to kiss, he sneezed on my face. A guy who went by his initials and had a cute white dog. I kicked him out of my apartment after he over-performed (you'll note that I have not gone into any real detail in the bedroom. I do that in my fiction; not so much on a blog my mom can read).

The boy from the mail room, who I used to take into empty classrooms. I believe I was trying to prove something, but I don't know what--that I was a free spirit? This confuses guys in their twenties because they think it means you're like that with everyone. I guess they were kind of right.  The mail room boy didn't last long because he started taking another secretary into a different classroom. A law student who wore only white t-shirts, spoke in a sexy scratch voice, and would only kiss me for the first time if I pretended to be sleeping (or dead?). He liked to take baths and may have been a sociopath. He's the only man I dated who I thought might hurt me physically. When I broke up with him, he made me a mixed tape of opera music from The Omen.

Not really any of my fellow writing students from DePaul. There were two guys I liked. One had a girlfriend (though I didn't know this for a really long time) and the other was so jumpy that we could never even sit on the same sofa together. He's married now. They're both married now. I think one may have a son named Elvis.

P.S. I am not counting any of the boys from my last year in college. Add, like, six actors who, bar none, recited soliloquies before the first kiss. The theater guys are the best and the worst of all. Best because they're often playing a leading role, and ditto for the worst.

And what did I learn? I learned that nothing mattered except what I did for myself, and I did very little for myself in my twenties because I was trying so hard to be someone else---a catch, a flirt, a tease, a mixed-signaler, and was at once too needy while also too quick to find fault. I was Hannah and a little bit of Jessa (though never as cool) and never Marnie-enough. Shoshanna--I don't relate to her, but I still liked her. What I finally did for myself was to take writing seriously and apply for grad school. I could start a list of boys from my thirties--and you would discover that my twenties lasted well into my thirties.


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