I look around at my life and I realize I’m starting to recognize it. I stand in my kitchen as the bread of my grilled cheese burns and I see the cutting board my last roommate left behind hanging as it always does on a nail in the wall. I see the stain on my Christmas oven mitt-the only one I have-from the time I stuck my thumb in the gingerbread before they were finished baking. I turn off the burner and I walk to the living room where the ikea light fixture casts shadows on the wall that look like spiders. I wonder if it’s time to change the mantra on the chalkboard.
I go back into the kitchen and sit on the countertop as I eat my sandwich. A song plays on my phone by a band I used to listen to and even though I’ve never heard this particular tune before, it feels familiar and I am twenty again riding in the back seat of my friend’s sister’s car as we drive through L.A. and I am dreaming about the future and where I want to be. I don’t know where it is, but I know it isn’t there.
I blink and I’m back in my apartment staring at peach painted walls. The “where” I didn’t know back then is here. I guess. I’ve had the same strand of Christmas lights in my bedroom for eighteen months and not a single bulb has burnt out. But I feel burnt out. Maybe I am taking one for the team. Maybe the team has taken one for me.
I moved to New York with two suitcases and hope and now I have a bed and a kitchen table and four chairs and a desk and I wonder what I’m supposed to do with all these things, not the least of which is that hope which sometimes fills me up so high I think I might drown in it.
I work hard, because that’s what you do here, and I recognize the scars and the bruises all over the body that has grown and changed with me. Today I like it. I am happy with its shape but I know that isn’t what matters. What matters is what it’s been through not what it looks like, but I think it’s okay to revel sometimes in superficial things because sometimes the things you are not supposed to do are the ones that feel the best.
I fall down a lot. Both literally and figuratively and both my knees and my heart are very often tinged black and blue. I try to pretend like this is not the case with my heart. There’s nothing I can do about my knees. I can see that sometimes I have been unwittingly hurtful to good people because I am afraid to let them poke at my bruises before they have turned that scary yellow color that proves they are healing. Self preservation, you know.
So many times I have been given the chance to choose between someone and the inevitable "something" that I have been chasing after and I keep choosing the something. They say that your career won’t keep you warm, but maybe those someones wouldn’t have either. I recognize that I have made a choice. I face that choice every day. I feel it most when it is 7 p.m. and I can’t decide if I want to take a nap or make a pot of coffee.
All of my favorite habits are bitter and vaguely unhealthy but science justifies a glass of red wine with dinner, an existential crisis before bed every now and then. My mother says I need more vitamin D, but I don’t think that’s going to change anything.
I am happy to be here and scared to keep going but I’m going to do it anyway and maybe that’s what growing up is about. Maybe not. I’ve only just begun.
I am uncertain and isolated and ready for whatever may be lurking around the corner. I look around at my life and I recognize it as my own. I built it with my two hands and my hesitant heart. These days, it's all about the little victories.