I have some bad news my friends, it's not something I want to admit but...age has decided to pay me a visit. It was not a friendly visit. There I was hanging out with my sixteen and twenty-one year old self when there's a knock on the door and Twenty-seven slaps me right in the face.
Five years ago, I moved to Arizona and worked, worked, worked. The hours were long and the stress was heavy on my shoulders, it was me and my future mid-forties self. Get up early, drink strong coffee, go to work, go back home, take a shower, eat some dinner, and go to sleep so we can do it all over again tomorrow. A couple of years ago Twenty-one showed up and was all "Hi, remember me? I need attention." I felt guilty. I never gave Twenty-one her due attention. I didn't show up on my birthday with my license in hand at the liquor store, I didn't party hard, I didn't skip classes due to a hangover (except the ONE time). I was so busy trying to get to graduation that I skipped a whole year of my life, probably a pivotal one. So when I got my second chance, I took it.
I quit my job. I left it where it belongs--in the future. Someday I will need to work more than forty hours a week and I will have a mortgage and car payments and who knows what else. For now it was me and Twenty-one (and, as I said, ocassionally Sixteen) taking road trips, living back with my mom, not worrying about a job. Not worrying about much. The future was in the future.
Welcome to the future.
It started sometime around the Spring. I began to feel tired a bit more easily. I was sleeping somewhere around six hours in a night, and that's not bad for Twenty-one, and more than enough for Sixteen, but a killer for Twenty-seven. I was wanting to get to sleep earlier and if I didn't get my full eight-hour dose then I'd be tired, cranky, and even dizzy. Then one day something funny, yet sad, happened: there I was watching late-night television with my cousin when I got hungry and went into the kitchen for some Pop-Tarts. I reached up to the cabinet and I got a spasm in my back.
No joke. I spent like a week moving around slowly and unable to lift heavy things. WTF? A back spasm?
For a brief moment after that I thought that I had regained the company of my younger selves. I went on my road trip and had a hell of a good time, and then I came back and helped with my grandmother's post-surgery needs. But once I stopped to take a breath it all came back to me. The epiphany was finally realized when I came to Vallarta. A twenty-four hour drive straight here, two weeks of ups and downs and late nights, a twenty-four hour drive back to Phoenix, and a thirty-hour bus drive back.
Holy shit! I thought I was never going to be able to stand.
The lack of sleep and a regular healthy meal (necessities for people of a certain age) had finally taken it's toll. To top it off, I come back to my apartment just before midnight, opened the door, and my feet splashed.
Yes. It had rained for three straight days and nights in the living room. You will understand how at one point I debated whether to mop up the floor at that moment or wait until morning, but my OCD won over my fatigue and hunger. I finished two hours and two buckets full of water later.
How did I feel the next morning?
Like I'd been hit by a brick truck. Dizzy, hungry, tired, and with every bone in my body in pain.
Had I my sixteen year-old self with me the recuperation process might have been a little quicker, but I'm sure she is off somewhere having a grand time and eating all of the crap that made us overweight but we didn't really give a shit about. Back then I could eat anything that was fried or dipped in sauce and wash it down with a soda.
No ma'am not anymore. Now it's fiber-rich cereals (goodbye Cap n' Crunch), fruits and vegetables (and not just any fruit or vegetable. No, each one has to be for SOMETHING), and lots and lots of water (goodbye tasty Coke). Ocassionally I will eat something that I know has no nutritional value whatsoever, but it has to be accompanied by a tiny pink pill so that my stomach doesn't explode.
I miss Mozzarella sticks :(
Two weeks later and Twenty-seven and I have gotten into a comfortable pattern. We wake up mid-morning, do a little stretching, and have some coffee with a wheat-bread. We walk everywhere and I must admit that Twenty-seven has some good things about her. For one thing she comes with a different look. I'm not kidding, this whole year I've changed more in my features than in any other year. It's like I'm maturing or something. For another, even though I tire more easily, I am more active. Walking is a big thing with Twenty-seven. We walk everywhere, and I want to do exercise (if I ever woke up early, I might just do it). Also, in the past two days I've cleaned more than I ever did in my entire life.
We have our arguments. The biggest being my solitude.
Sixteen could care less, she has her handful of trusting friends and her books and the creativity and imagination that make her believe that the world can be whatever she wants and she has all of the time in the world.
Twenty-one? Are you kidding? She thrives in solitude. Don't bother her. All she wants is to see the world. Anyone who wants to come along is welcome, and anyone who doesn't? Who cares. She's selfish, yes, but so is everybody else. There is no need for a co-pilot. Hell, there's very little need for friends. She's off to be something great, she's off to conquer the world.
Twenty-seven wants me grounded. Put the luggage away and stop running around. Maybe that's why I've been dizzy--the world stopped spinning so suddenly and I'm standing still. The future is not impending but it is visible, more than it ever was. I'm punished for my past decisions: walking away from my job, changing my career, spending my savings, retreating into isolation. I have to make goals and actively plan for the future. And in the meantime do that one thing that once, I felt I never needed and another time, I had no wish or desire to do: socialize. It's the lifeblood of Twenty-seven. She wants to meet people, she craves the noise of conversation in the same way that Sixteen craved a good book and a quiet corner. She fears the invisibility that is Twenty-one's super-power. She is afraid of the dark that engulfs her senses every night. There is this unprecedented need to have another human being validate her existance.
I miss my old friends. Their spirits visit me and we reminisce about the good times. They ask me to go back but I can't get the energy to do it. I feel drained, more mentally than physically. I hope that they won't disappear, that they will continue to visit me and that one day I will be able to go with them at least one more time on a great adventure. After all, I still need to get to New York City.