Forever Young?

“What year did you graduate?” she asked me over the music last night.

“2008.” I replied loudly.

“Oh.” she said.

“You?” I asked.

“I’m finishing up next semester.”

We started dancing again and joked by speaking in German accents.  I laughed.

While the loud electro-pop pulsed at the Barbary last night for my friend Alex’s QREAM Birthday Tribute to Needles Jones and tribute to Amy Winehouse, I was filled with a sense of ennui while sipping my $2 PBR.  It’s the same pounding and throbbing music, the same fashion one-upsmanship of fabulous party-goers in the same seedy bars with cheap lighting and cheap drinks.  It used to be fun staying out all night, doing shots, and taking pictures in photo booths.  There was a sense of revelry and excitement and that you owned the night.

It’s 2011 and I’m not a college student anymore.  I now get anxious when I think of waking up the next day for work when I’m still out at 2am.  And while I haven’t started knitting in between music acts or putting coasters on my beers at the bar, I sometimes feel I’m one step away from saying to the band, “Hey guys, excuse me.  You’re playing great, but um, could you turn your bass down just a wee bit.”  What happened?  Did I get old?

Although my actor range could technically still be 18-25, in the next few years I may start being cast as the young uncle or the fun loving sidekick, and soon enough, the father.  This all makes sense, I’m not the naive, wide-eyed boy I used to be, but I also don’t feel quite like the responsible adult either.  The transition happened like a slow fade where I entered Tattooed Mom’s at 21, galloping up the stairs, lounging in the bumper car chairs, and complaining that the Jagermeister shots taste like licorice, and I hate licorice, but I drink them anyway; until the night fades to dawn, when I stumble out of Tattooed Mom’s five years later, throwing my disposable contacts in the street and rubbing my tired eyes.

I’m aware that this sounds like the ramblings of the adolescent Clay from Less Than Zero, the nostalgia of The Streets song, “Weak Become Heroes,” or the melancholy of Joan Didion in her essay, “Goodbye to All That,” where she said:

“All I mean is that I was very young in New York, and that at some point the golden rhythm was broken, and I am not that young anymore.”

In a world where beauty and youth are valued, aging is an acknowledgement of your own mortality.  I don’t think I’d want to be young forever, but as I age I move on to the next step of redefining myself.  I’m not the crazy party animal anymore.  I’m sure I’d make a great uncle and a fantastic goofy side kick though.

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