Twenty-two is an interesting age. Even now as I'm writing this sentence, a voice in my head resounds "Twenty-two...twenty...two; holy crap, you're really 22?!" Actually, I'm about to be 23, but we won't get into that. If I'm going to panic about the passage of time, at least let me do it while dedicating a Taylor Swift song to myself.
Being 22 feels like ice cream that's been set out on the counter for a little bit too long. A little bit solid, a little bit soupy. Icy and hardened in some places, sticky in others. I live in an apartment that my mom didn't cosign for, but I also see her on average once a week. I work in an office, but I don't own a good pair of dress slacks. I articulate these feelings of in-between to people my own age, and they commiserate. I articulate these feelings to people older than me, and they commiserate over what once was. The good thing about being 22, at least, is a certain amount of disheveled is expected and a healthy helping of chaos is encouraged. You're prepared to be "happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time," but no one ever tells you that the "happy" feels more like euphoria and the "lonely" feels nearly bone-crushing. And they say this is around the time when you more or less solidify the person you're going to be, while wringing yourself dry of your angsty energy and all-nighters.
So I guess if this is the version of me that's going to stick, I should get used to the fact that I'm bad at cleaning my coffee pot and articulating my stress. I will forever buy my loved ones paper-and-envelope cards, even if the postal service completely goes out of style. I have an obsessive personality that loves and hates easily, and I let myself get annoyed by the little things. When I feel sad I like to drive around and wonder what people I haven't talked to in eons are up to.
I have fantasies about picking up and moving to the West Coast or getting a puppy from the shelter, and then moments later the rational part of my brain kicks in and tells me I can't afford to. I complain that I'm not being published, but I don't submit my writing to literary journals that would, in theory, publish me. I let the stack of books I haven't read collect dust, and I delete and re-download the dating apps on my phone over and over again. I do my taxes with the reckless abandon of a Pollack painting, and I love my friends with the same fierceness.
And sometimes I come home from a hard week at work and I have no desire to leave the house. I buy ice cream from the convenience store and accidentally let it sit out on the counter. It will be several minutes before I remember, but by then it's too late. It is, like me, a little bit solid, a little bit soupy. But I grab a spoon anyway, just going along with any state of matter the universe has to offer.
I won't be the first to wax poetic about her early twenties*, and I won't be the last. We all, if we're lucky, turn 16, and 22, and 47, and beyond. There's no novelty in getting older, and you shouldn't feel for me because I just so happen to be in a weird patch of doing so. Because you, dear reader, you know how this ends. You know everything turns out to be okay, and you know we'll both figure it out. The proof is abundant: The things I lost sleep over as a teenager don't bother me anymore, and I'm not still upset that I fell off my bike when I was eight. I will not be pensive and lost forever, but I was given permission by my surroundings to feel out-of-sorts, so I'm doing it. And you're reading it. And Taylor Swift is ominously hanging around in the background, encouraging us to dress up like hipsters and make fun of our exes. Uh uh, uh uh.
*I hope Hayley, my friend and unintentional mentor, doesn't mind that I'm including this, and I hope you all find it as cathartic as I do.