I turn 24 in 36 minutes and counting. I keep waiting for Hagrid to break down my door at midnight and tell me that Hogwarts is terribly sorry, I’ve had magical powers this whole time and my owl just got quite lost all those years ago.
In all seriousness, I hate drawing attention to myself on my birthday, but it is always a weird awakening this whole aging thing. I distinctly remember turning 10 because the waiter at whatever restaurant I picked said something like “You’ve reached the two-digit years!” and I realized it is very likely I will only be in the “two-digits” for the rest of my life. Weird. I’ll probably feel nauseous when I turn 30.
24 is a pretty insignificant age. You still have to pay extra for renting a car, as Sean and I are reminded as we rent a car for our highly anticipated Highway 1/Pacific Coast Highway tour of California from San Diego to San Francisco this upcoming week.
Half of me can’t believe I’m already 24. I feel like just yesterday I was attending high school marching band practice, applying to colleges, studying for AP exams, shopping for my prom dress. But at the same time, I feel a lot older than 24 sometimes. I’m already married — a rarity for a 20-something in this city — I have a college degree, I’m entering my third year of full-time employment (say what?!?), I don’t live with my parents, I’m responsible for the care of another life (a cat’s, but still). I help pay for rent, bills, groceries, insurance. I recycle. I pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy. That makes me feel so old.
I never feel so much 24 as when I stay up too late on a weeknight or go to happy hour on a Tuesday or eat cookies for “second breakfast” at work or buy yet another coat because you can never have too many and it’s FALL!!! I mean, married and employed or not, you’re only 24 once. When I find out other people are buying houses in the suburbs or are having babies (and are more or less my age), I never feel so young and confused by their extremely responsible behavior.
Even though it’s technically our belated “summer” vacation, I feel like this California trip is partially a really big birthday present. I’m so, so excited to not think about work for a full 10 days and see the Pacific Ocean, eat amazing fish tacos, discover new craft breweries, learn more about American history, plow through another book on the long flight there and back, and generally get a break from the “East Coast” culture.
Last night when I had just stepped into the shower, Sean was trying to brush his teeth and the ENTIRE GLASS SHELF of the medicine cabinet somehow got stuck to the toothpaste tube, knocking a whole bunch of stuff off the shelf, and breaking my water glass in the process. As Sean angrily swept up the glass shards, he banged his head really hard on the sharp corner of the medicine cabinet door. Sign: It’s time for vacation.
This evening, as I left the office (late, I might add) from the subway, a rat practically RAN ACROSS MY TOES and dove into a pile of trash. At a busy intersection of Lexington in midtown! There were a million people around! How is this possible?!? Sign: It’s time for vacation.
Tonight, as Sean was loading our last pre-vacation round of laundry into the machines, a mouse stared at him curiously. In our basement. Sign: It’s time for vacation.
I love New York, I really do, but what’s up with the perpetual dog-urine-and-pot smell?!? There’s a really great skit in the third season of Portlandia when the temporary mayor of Portland complains that the city isn’t a real city because of this, that, and the other reason. At one point, people start dumping buckets of urine on the streets of Portland to give it that authentic, urine-ish urban smell. Soooo accurate.
(I used to naively assume this was just dog urine, but one day I was walking home in my own neighborhood, and a homeless, handicapped man started peeing RIGHT NEXT TO ME on the side of the road. I stupidly did a double-take and practically sprinted away in horrific realization. It’s not like I was the only person walking by either.)
Anyway. Time to escape this place for a bit. I’m so excited to explore San Diego and San Francisco. I’m a little wary of L.A., but I’m more than willing to give it a shot.
Tomorrow we’re celebrating with a fancy dinner at Le Parisien. Because you can never go wrong with French cuisine on your special day.