The Definitive List of my 20s so far.

Over the years, while basking in a post-birthday glow, I’ve always liked to reminisce about where I was the year before and how much has changed. Usually there are little things, like “I can finally afford Uber on nights out!” and “most of my clothes don’t come from Forever21 anymore!” However, now that I’m officially in my mid-to-late (gulp) 20s, I’ve been reminiscing about my formative years as a 20-whatever, from college to city. Each year has special milestones and memories, so I thought I’d put together a list ranking these years so far. So, my wonderful readers, enjoy my little stroll down memory lane.

A 20-Whatever’s Guide to My Early 20s

6. 20

Ugh. 20 sucked. To be fair, for the first few months I was still in living in Argentina and it was glorious. But once I was back in the States, I was: still in college, no job prospects, couldn’t drink with my friends, broke up with my college boyfriend, worked a terrible summer job for a few months, fought with my parents constantly…. the list goes on. Bai 20 see u never.

5. 22

22 was such a weird year. The day after my 22nd birthday is the day I moved to New York City, so I will forever love that year for nostalgic purposes, but when you drop a recent college graduate into this city, a lot of weird things happen. I was new to the workforce and trying to learn a job, while new to the city and trying to learn my way around. I still hadn’t figured out how to drink in public responsibly so at some point in this year I puked in a cab after a pregame and then ran out of the cab without paying before the driver noticed. I was consistently broke and lived in an apartment with a stripper, who would get home from work at 5 a.m. and proceed to sing loudly in the bathroom while she got ready for bed – the bathroom that was only accessible through my bedroom. I’ll give T. Swift the benefit in that I had some sweet dance moves at 22, but I could leave the rest of the learning experiences behind in my early 20s, thankyouverymuch.

4. 24

Oh, 24. The year you’re old enough to look disdainfully on the youths running rampant in the Upper East Side but not too old to black out during unlimited sake/sushi in Koreatown, screeching a heartbreaking (if I say so myself) rendition of My Heart Will Go On with your best friend, while his boyfriend looks at you like you’re insane. 24 was great for a while, but things started to fall apart somewhere in this year, so it just wasn’t my favorite. Sorry 24. You tried.

3. 21

How do you not love 21. My 21st birthday is only edged out by my 25th for most fun: it was a Monday about 2 weeks into senior year of college. My soul sister E planned a party at our on-campus townhouse apartment, complete with handmade banners and Skippy, the delectable college brew of cheap beer, cheaper vodka, and Country Time Lemonade mix. We invited people haphazardly, thinking a Monday crowd would be a small one, people trickling in on occasion; we ended up with probably 40-50 people cycling in and out of the apartment throughout the night. There was a fistfight over leftover pizza and I woke up in my party dress on the couch, a half-eaten cookie next to my face. 21 is when I started dating the one-time love of my life, it’s when I graduated college and when I made the decision to come to New York. 21 rocked.

2. 23

This was a tough call as the runner-up, but 23 was a fantastic year, kicked off with what is still the craziest birthday party I’ve ever had: on my brother’s rooftop on a perfect late summer night, loud music and everyone I loved. That was a full year of happiness in the delicious, wonderful, perfect, still-new-but-maybe-serious stage of a relationship, half learning and growing, half enraptured in each other like we might make it to forever. That was a year where I partied in the Hamptons on my boss’s lawn, the year I fell in love with Washington Heights after countless trips to visit my lovely friend M, and had the craziest Oscars party to date; the year where I was just old enough to enjoy the city while learning limits, the year I discovered my favorite little tapas bar in Manhattan, and just a year of happy moments. I don’t remember all of them anymore, marred with time and a changed life, but I look back on that year with all fondness.

1. 25

Let’s be real for a minute: the past year for me has been an absolute disaster. In no particular order, I: dealt with a broken shower for 2 weeks; changed jobs; resigned a lease on an apartment I wasn’t supposed to stay in; spent six months trying to convince my landlords to fix my door (STILL BROKEN); fought more than once with more than one friend; budgeted and rebudgeted and still subsided on coffee and peanut butter for three full days before pay day on more than one occasion; broke my own heart when I ended what I thought was The Relationship; met the person I thought would change my life on the A train and had my heart broken all over again. It’s a lot for anyone to live through in such a relatively short period of time, and I’ve never felt more confused and alone trying to pull through it all. This year has beat me bloody and picked me up for another round. I’ve handled blow, after blow, after blow, just waiting for a reprieve, hoping maybe this is the day things will turn around.

But it’s also the year I learned more about myself than ever. I found out I can run a Spartan Race and subsequently brag about it for months, paint an entire living room in under 48 hours and plan a trip to Texas in under two weeks that was quite literally the time of my life. It’s when I discovered yoga, my favorite part of my day, and added to my tattoo collection, my favorite parts of my body. This is the year I watched someone I used to play Barbies with walk down the aisle and say yes to the love of her life; this is the year I watched my sister say yes to a lifetime with the person she was always supposed to meet. I had countless Sunday Fundays with the Nickname Posse, from fall football to cozy winter brunches to spring picnics in Fort Tryon and summer wine on my fashionista C’s roof. This is the year I let myself open up to love, the year I learned where my walls are and what someone will need to do to break them down. And most importantly, it’s the year I finally learned that I really, really can’t go out two nights in a row anymore unless I want to sacrifice two full days to third circle of hangover hell.

Looking at the list, it seems I don’t have great luck with even years, but all things considered, I didn’t have luck at all times with the odd ones either. So here’s to 26, all of the memories to be made, and all the fabulous PLDs to chronicle along the way.

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Should I stay or should I go (out)?

There comes a time in every twenty-whatever’s weekend where you have to make a difficult decision. It generally happens on a Saturday around 8 p.m., and becomes especially difficult if you’ve stayed out late on Friday and/or started with brunch that day. It’s the moment where you stop, reevaluate your current outfit for appropriateness and pay attention to your body for just a minute to see if there is any lingering hint of “I’ll have two shots and all of the beers” from the night before, via acid swirling in your stomach or drums playing on your brain. A quick check of the bank account balance, and then it’s decision time: Am I heading home for a hot date with popcorn and Netflix, or are we going out?

This is what happens when M and I stay in.

This is what happens when M and I stay in.

The most committed relationship I’ve ever been in is with my sweatpants. I love nothing more than sitting on my couch in my ratty college pants and an old sorority t-shirt, wrapped in blankets, engulfed by my lion’s mane of tangled weekend hair. However, this past weekend I had “rally” stamped across my forehead to remind myself that this would be an intense two days, as a joint birthday celebration for N and my partner-in-crime R was on the books. The original plan was to have a college-esque Friday night in a beer hall in the West Village, watching basketball and playing old card games, surrounded by massive beer steins and all of our friends, followed by a fancy Saturday in the Meatpacking, dressed to the nines, chasing cocktails with cute boys. It didn’t seem that daunting at the time – after all, this is a girl who went out a minimum of six nights a week in college, and even now can head out for happy hour that lasts till midnight and make it into the office for an 8 a.m. call with Europe. Staying in wasn’t part of the plan.

After “going out on Friday” turned into “getting home at 5 a.m. on Saturday,” I found myself in a tight spot the next night, grimacing through a pre-dinner beer with R and a few friends, suppressing the urge to burp what felt like carbonation for fear it would lead to me losing the contents of my stomach, trying to ignore the pound, pound, pound of my heartbeat resonating on the right side of my brain, beat please stop drinking beat I’m only going to make this worse for you beat are you sure you aren’t going to vomit? I was dolled up in my favorite jumpsuit and heels, torrential-rain-be-damned levels of makeup on my face and cash in hand for the $15 cocktails awaiting at Brass Monkey, and yet here I was, barely able to finish a Sam Summer, mood rapidly deteriorating as I realized that this night just wasn’t going to happen for me.

I triiiiiiied

I triiiiiiied

Sometimes the hardest decisions to make are the ones that are already made whether you realize it or not. That’s not a commentary on fate or pre-determined destiny, but at times, intuition tells us what we’re going to do in the end, waiting for your mind to catch up with your heart as you tell yourself there’s still a choice. On occasion, it’s a simple decision, like scrolling through Seamless pretending you aren’t just going to get your standard Thai takeout; and other times it’s more complicated, like walking away from a relationship where you haven’t been happy in months. It sucks when your intuition isn’t telling you what you want to hear: you want to believe you really are going to order tacos this time, that you’ll enjoy moving out of your apartment, that it’s possible to salvage a broken relationship. But sometimes, a poor decision is pushing yourself into something you’ve already decided you don’t want.

There was no way I was making it out on Saturday unless I wanted to subject the birthday girl to a night of me crouched over in the corner, dry-heaving and grimacing at anyone who came near; or condemn myself to a Sunday on the floor of my bathroom, likely handling a migraine, crippling nausea and deep, deep regret for that final old fashioned all in one. My birthday gift to R was taking my fun-police ass home to pass out in front of Saturday Night Live on my couch. I’m sure that me heading home won’t be the always be the case when I’m faced yet again with the eternal, “should I stay or should I go (out)” dilemma – after all, I wouldn’t have a blog if that were the case. But after waking up yesterday to my cat on my pillow and a clear head as I faced a full day of babysitting, cooking and cleaning, I’m pretty confident it was the right one in this case.