Ugh. Couldn't possibly dread this post any more. I'm officially unable to trust myself.
You ever turn 30, but feel like you're still 15 with some bizarro freedom to drink, smoke, and go to strip clubs? Because that's kinda where I'm at right now.
I've been watching a lot of this show in syndication, "How I Met Your Mother"; it's pretty funny and yet poignant at times as well. Like Scrubs, except the cut-away gags aren't quite as zany. Anyway, one of the major themes is growing up and how you're supposed to handle yourself now that you're in your early 30s. I find myself taking that bit to heart, considering the fact that I'm entering a decade where you're supposed to be finally Getting Your Shit Together.
The whole "settling down" thing doesn't really appeal to me, though. Not that I'm Mr. Going Out All The Time Guy or anything. I find "settling down" to be more a state of mind than anything else. It's not just meeting someone, getting married, having kids, buying a home. Sure, those could be parts of it, but those aren't things even remotely on my radar right now.
I'm rambling here, not really getting my point across too clearly. When I was in college, my primary fear was of failure. Failing at life. Getting stuck in a corporate shit-suck job. Not meeting my potential or even remotely approaching it. Not living the life I most want to live because of all the restrictions around me. Having a job and needing money to do the things I want to do (go out to bars, concerts, travelling, experiencing new and exciting things) but not having the time or the means to do them because of the whole "having a job and needing money" thing. You can't have it both ways. You can't work and commute full time and expect to have the opportunity or the energy to do everything else. And when you're restricted in the number of days off you get from said job, and when you don't have the monetary means to travel because you're working so hard just to get out into your own apartment, well, what are you supposed to do? I have precious few days I get to take away from work that aren't weekend days, and all I want to do is fucking sleep. Zone out at home. Drink and fucking enjoy myself before Monday morning rolls around and I've got to start the shit-suck all over again.
Living at home really isn't helping things. Of course, I love my family and I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to get my finances squared so I can afford to move out with a clean slate, but let's be realistic, this is a major reason why I still feel like I'm 15 going on 12. I've got to get out on my own. I've got to be my own man. I've got to live in the same fucking city where I work so I can have the time to do the things I SHOULD be doing. Working out, going out, meeting people, hanging with friends.
My 20's were mostly a good time. College was awesome, post-college was even better. I travelled, I moved around, I partied and went out and met some amazing people. But, the last couple years have been, for the most part, absolute balls. It's been me under a self-inflicted crushing financial burden, it's been me stressed out far too often, it's been me dealing with the same job, it's been me getting disturbingly out of shape. It's hard to feel like I'm not right back where I started when I entered my 20s. All of it just screams "Loser!"
Of course, I have the power to change that and I fully intend on changing that in the coming months. But right now, I just feel like wallowing.
I currently have about $3,300 in the bank. Chop off a grand from that because I need a new computer before I move out. I haven't done the math on the rest of my needs, but I'll certainly need a new bed and a quality mattress. I'll need a couch (not a Futon, but a real, adult couch). That's chewing right through that saving account right there. There will be other incidentals, I'm sure (dishes, bathroom stuff, etc). I'll need First/Last/Deposit in my apartment. I'll want a TV (even though I won't be popping for cable, I'll still want it for movies and whatever those HD rabbit ears will get me). And, let's face it, I'll want some money in savings for a rainy day. Because I WON'T be going back into debt. That's the main and only priority in this thing. I'm doing it right this time. And if that means I have to push things back (like I've been doing since I moved back home), then so be it. Once I'm ready financially, I'll be ready mentally. Once I'm confident in all those bullshit things that are in my power, I can start focusing on things that aren't.
Part of me feels like I should've been on top of this five years ago. That I should've had this grand master plan in place BEFORE I turned 30. So that now, I'd be in a nice little groove and ready to dominate the next ten years. But, you know what, I've always held the belief that your 20s are for fucking around. You throw a bunch of crap on the wall and see what sticks. You figure out who you are, what you like, and what you want to be. Then, when you're 30, you finally start getting that shit done. Sharpen your focus. Implement strategy.
30 isn't old. It's just the foyer of old. I've opened the door, I'm taking off my jacket, shaking off my umbrella, kicking off my muddy shoes, and saying a happy hello to the dog. 40 is old. 40 is the living room of old. It's when you settle into your couch's ass groove, flick on the television, crack open a beer and scratch your crotch while you flip through the channels to find something to watch. And, for good measure, 50 is the bedroom of old. You strip down to your t-shirt and boxers, climb into bed, turn off the lamp, and lie there waiting for sweet, sweet death because your life is officially over.
I had my 30th birthday one week ago today. It couldn't have been more depressing. I threw a "party" in the loosest sense of the word. Believe me when I say that I fully appreciate my friends who showed up and made it a good time. We sat around and watched the Huskies play and win in the NCAA Tournament, then we kicked it up a notch with beer pong and a little pool. But, let's face it, it wasn't special. Of course, I know that's my fault; it's the party I planned. It's the party I wanted. I didn't WANT a big blow out where we dress up and go out and hit the town. I wanted low-key and comfortable. Where I can drink copious amounts of beer and fall asleep in my own bed instead of someone's couch or floor or freezing-ass basement extra bedroom.
But, you know what? I feel like I SHOULD have wanted a big blow out. I SHOULD have been living in Seattle at the time where we could've done a bar-crawl and I could've seen more people and STILL slept in my own bed. Instead of just my average Friday night at home in Tacoma, doing the same things I could do on ANY Friday night in Tacoma. It was special because I had so many of my friends turn out, but other than that it was just the same old thing. But, that's the life of contradictions I live. I want what I want, but I feel like I'm missing out on something else entirely.
Last night, I went out. It was pretty much exactly like I'm talking about here. I woke up at my usual 5am yesterday morning and my brother was still awake. He told me about this show being put on at El Corazon by a band we mutually enjoy, She Wants Revenge. It was last minute - which, right there is tough for me. I like to plan things out in advance; get myself in the proper state of mind for going out and doing something different. AND, it was on a work night. Meaning it would be a late one and I'd likely struggle through a work day the next day. So, I told my brother that I'd think about it and give him an answer by the time he woke up later that afternoon.
I thought about it all the way to the Tacoma Dome. Thought about it some more on the bus ride to work. And even more still in the first few hours at the office. I weighed the pros and cons described above. And I came to the conclusion that this was something I NEEDED to do. I NEEDED to get out of my comfort zone a little bit. I NEEDED to go out, drink, let off some steam, and for once let the consequences be damned. So, I texted him that I was in.
A few minutes before quitting time, I found a movie to see to kill some time. Saw "Cedar Rapids", a comedy I've been wanting to see since it came out. Hard not to draw some parallels from that story, I'll tell ya. Ed Helms is put into an unfamiliar situation, lets down his guard, gets into some serious shenanigans, and decides to say "fuck it" and go all out. In the end, the consequences are the consequences, and sometimes you just have to say "fuck it" and take your medicine when the time comes.
After the movie, I went to a bar to watch some Sweet 16 action and wait for my brother to drive up. Sat down at the Gameworks bar and ordered up a 25-ounce Newcastle and a shot of Jack right away. Had two or three more beers after that and then my brother showed up. We each had a beer and then made our way to the venue. Had a few more beers there, enjoyed the show immensely, and left.
While at the show, my brother ran into a lady friend he'd known for a while. Since he's newly single, I got to play a little wingman action which is not entirely unfamiliar, but something I haven't been confronted with in a while. Being the good wingman that I am, when she made it known that she wanted to hit up a club after the show, I sucked it up and went along for the ride.
I didn't know where we were going until we got there. She said it was called Neighbors, but for some reason I had no idea what that was until we started driving into Capitol Hill. Yes, I know what Neighbors is, I've known about it for a while, but at the time it was a complete mental block. She offered to pay the cover for us, which is just as well because there's this thing about me: I don't pay covers to go to places I don't want to be. Just a quirky little trait, I'm funny like that. So, she pays the cover and we go in.
Now, you know me. I'm not homophobic in the slightest. If I look uncomfortable in a gay club, that's not because it's a GAY club; it's because it's a club. I look uncomfortable in EVERY club I'm in, because I'm not a guy who goes clubbing. I don't get off on crappy music and dancing to said crappy music. Again, just a thing about me. I'm more than fine just standing on the outskirts with a beer in my hand and chatting with the transvestites sitting at the bar.
We were in there for, I dunno, five or ten minutes. Just long enough to see, in the distance on the square, technicolor dance floor, a co-worker of mine jamming out. It's always been kind of assumed that he's gay, but he doesn't really talk about his sexuality because - duh - it's the workplace. Nevertheless, I didn't really want him to see me there because by this point in our evening I knew that instead of slogging through a crappy work day, I'd be calling in sick in the wee hours of the morning and going back to bed. And, let's face it, I don't really enjoy answering questions about my sexuality; I don't want to be THAT GUY who seems all offended when someone thinks I'm gay even though I'm not (I'm just being a good wingman for my brother).
So, I handed my brother my half-empty beer bottle and said I was going outside for a cigarette. I took a seat in an empty doorway, leaned against the wall, and found it difficult to keep my head from nodding off. There were other smokers out there, and I was in that sloppy-mess position for a good ten minutes or so, as my cigarette burned down to the filter without me. Since I didn't want them to think I was about to fall asleep in a dirty alley, or that I needed the assistance of an amber-lamps or a buttinsky police officer, I brought myself to my feet and headed back up to Broadway. I was briefly worried that nothing was going to be open - this feeling made worse by the fact that to my left was nothing but that community college of the name I can't remember - so I took a right and was relieved to see an Open sign lit up at the Pita Pit. I'm proud to say that my string of ONLY eating at Pita Pit when I'm drunk and it's after midnight is still intact. That Chicken Crave never tasted so sweet.
I ate slowly, really relished every bite. I sat in the restaurant, eating and reading The Stranger until the food dude pointed out that I had people waving at me from outside the facade. They asked what I was doing there, I told them the only thing I'd eaten since lunch is a small bag of popcorn at the movie, and that if I didn't eat I was literally going to die right there in the fucking alley. Then, my brother said that the transvestites asked where his boyfriend (me) was, and I had a good laugh. Josh's lady friend got herself a pita to go and we bid her adieu as she got in a cab (since she lived all the way across town and didn't want to put us out; I think she's a keeper!). We made it back to my car in the Tacoma Dome parking garage and then home quite safely.
Before I went to bed, I wondered if I was too old for this shit. You know, going to El Corazon to see a band, knowing I was older than most of the people in there to enjoy the show. But I quickly came to the conclusion that I'm not. If it was an All Ages show, that would be another matter entirely; but I'm not too old to hit up a $20 concert. I'm not too old to rock out with other kids in their 20s. I'm right there with them. They're on the front porch, and I'm only in the foyer. I can see them through the open door. I want to tell them that it doesn't have to change. You can still have a corporate shit-suck job, go out late on a weeknight, and every once in a while blow off work the next day because you're "not feeling well." I don't feel bad about that in the least, by the way. I've probably only called in sick without actually being sick one time since I resumed working there upon my return home from New York. It's not like it's a fucking trend. And if they find out about it and decide to take action on it, then fuck them. It's not like I'm going to be heartbroken because I got fired from a job I could take or leave anyway.
This was an experience that I NEEDED to have. To remind myself of my way-faring 20s, and to remind myself that it can still be that way. And when I finally move back to Seattle, I can continue to have these nights. I can go out, hit up bars, stay up late, and STILL go to work the next day. I won't have to tack on an hour for a drive home, then another hour because I have to wake up extra early to go into work the next day. My options for having a good time will open up exponentially. And ultimately, that's going to be what carries me out of my funk and finally lets me start enjoying life in my 30s.
Last night was just the first step. I look forward to the rest of the journey.