A few weeks ago, I celebrated my 33rd birthday…celebrated being a euphemism for what I ACTUALLY did, which was spend a significant portion of the day crying while getting royally drunk on red wine.
33 roared up on me, presenting itself in motorcycle leathers, demanding the goods for its payment at my birth. It had given me enough time, it reasoned, gesticulating with a cigarette, to DO something, BE something, SHOW something, and it wanted proof—just the facts, man—that its loan had been put to use.
My lower lip trembled.
I hadn’t, in fact, done anything with the gift, and was standing there–With nothing as proof.
Instead, I look back at a long road, a tough one, and me, a terminally miserable, ever-dissatisfied wastrel; a mess in her quest toward the unnamed and ill-defined.
Standing in my place, in these shoes, this body, there was supposed to be a bohemian traveler. A jaunty soul. An accomplished….SOMETHING. I was set to see the world, to take lovers, to fit my life into a backpack. I was to lie on beaches, stroll museums and bazaars, to teach small children English As A Second Language, stopping each day by the box to send the postcards I now beg off of others.
Would have. Should have. Could have.
Youth is indeed wasted on the young.
Somewhere along the line, it became too late for those things. Somehow, the small setbacks got the better of me.
The successes that I push myself toward are only illusions to fool the unwitting onlooker. “But this!” they shout, “You’ve done this! And this! And THIS!!” Smokescreen, I tell you. Sleight of hand. Shadows and mirrors. For if they knew the image of myself that I hold in a secret pocket, the shock of the disparity would silence the room.
How do I reconcile this failure? How do I make it okay that my end point is here, rather than THERE?
In truth, I cannot. And that is the bottom of the well.