So, I had a crazy idea the other day.
I had the idea on my birthday.
As one does on one’s birthday, I had been considering my age. Of course, when one is little (one does not know why one is speaking so posh-ly, but perhaps it is to make up for the old wizened baseball coach of yesterday), growing older is an exciting thing. When one gets to one’s twenties, things kind of even out a little – one is not majorly excited about getting older anymore, but one still likes the presents and the general hoopla – whereas now that I’m in my late twenties, I’ve noticed a certain reticence about my b’day, about telling people my age and about each new year that was never there before. Not even the hoopla seems to make up for the fact that I am slowly but surely inching through my life. And as I was mulling all of this over, I suddenly realised I had only 365 days left of being ‘in my twenties’. I know that’s a very fatalistic way of looking at things and life doesn’t end at 30 (IT DOES IT DOES IT REALLY DOES), but it still kind of struck me. Like… a lighting bolt. Or a two-tonne garbage truck (not that I’ve ever been hit by one of those). Or a… Or a… out-of-control soccer ball on a school playground. And, then, when I woke up this morning, I thought, ‘Huh. Only 364 days left of ‘being in my twenties’.
There were many things that I had assumed I would achieve by the age of 29. Most of these things revolved around what my parents had achieved by this time. Luckily they were both hard-working, long-studying, world-travelling, high-achieving types, so neither of them were married with kids and a mortgage before they were 30. This has always given me great comfort by its seemingly inherent approval of the endlessly confusing back-and-forth wilderness of my twenties. However, as I get closer and closer to 30, I find myself creeping nearer and nearer to the milestones I had always assumed I would achieve by this point. At 28, my mother had met the man she was going to marry. By 28, my mother had finished her constant shifting and changing of degrees and countries and set up in Sydney and begun a ‘proper adult job’ as a medical registrar. At 28 my mother would seem to have had her life in some sort of order with some sort of discernible, approved direction. I, on the other hand, would appear to be floundering, with no real clue of what I’m aiming for, where I should be, what I am, who I like or anything else of any real significance and life importance.
But, anywho, this is not meant to be one of THOSE posts, where I moan and groan and whinge about how difficult it is to be a middle-class white girl who was lucky enough to pursue her passion and who had too many opportunities and now has far too many things to choose between and wouldn’t it all be so much easier if I didn’t have to CHOOSE things all the time, oh, woe is me my life is so hard I have to decide between eating the pretty rainbow cake with gold leaf and pink sugar flowers whilst seated on a goose-feather bed; or the triple chocolate mud cake covered in glitter and edible love hearts whilst swimming in a pool of milk and honey (I’ve been eating a lot of cake over the last few days. For my b’day. Not because I’m some kind of modern-day Marie Antoinette. Though I’m kind of that too maybe).
No, no. See, I came up with a PLAN. A plan to mark the sad and much-regretted demise of my 20’s. A plan so that I could remember EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE LAST YEAR OF MY TWENTIES.
The plan goes like this:
Every day in the last year of my twenties, I do something I have always wanted to do and have never done.
Then I write a blog post about it.
That’s it. That’s the plan. So, as long as the internet doesn’t die, I will have a complete record of the final year of my twenties. In case I ever want to re-live it. Or force other people to re-live it. Probably my relatives.
I don’t know that it’s necessarily going to work. I mean, first of all, the only things I can currently think of that I have always wanted to do and have never done are: dye my hair brown (achieved on the last day of being 28) and getting a tattoo. I can’t very well fill up 365 days of a year with getting a tattoo and dying my hair brown, now, can I?
Still, I quite like this idea of doing something new and exciting every single day. Apart from the fact that I’m almost a responsible adult (a really, truly, proper adult one now) I do sometimes feel very aware of the fact that my time in London seems to be slipping away faster than… faster than… well, faster than something that’s slipping away really fast (I was going to say sands through the hourglass, but I don’t want to remind you of soap operas and sands through my hands rhymes so I couldn’t do that and then I just got bored of thinking of other things). And that, despite this blog (which I’ve been very inattentive of recently), I feel like many days I am just going through the motions in London. Admittedly, some of those motions can be quite exciting (I met a man today who was on his way to Mi5! COULD BARELY CONTAIN EXCITEMENT), many times those motions are just work, eating, watching TV and sleeping.
So. To the plan. I’ve already had two days as a 29-year-old. I’ve done two new things on those days, and I will report on them forthwith.
1) Dying my hair brown
Well, ok, as I mentioned previously, I actually did this whilst being 28, but as I haven’t done anything new today, I’m counting it as my new thing for today. Shut up its my blog and my idea and my rules and I can do whatever I like and you’re not the boss of me and who made you king of the world anyways. Because I had naturally blonde hair up until moving to Ireland, I was always told by many people (well, ok, my stepmother) that I was not allowed to dye my hair. People spent many hundreds of dollars trying to get the hair colour that I just happened to have by sheer dumb luck and so it was insane to try and cover it up with cheap dye. Furthermore, she said, people with natural blonde hair who dyed their hair another colour hardly ever got their natrual blonde hair back. Dying your hair therefore became an incredibly mystical thing for me, something promising so much (who knows what wonders awaited me as a redhead or a brunette? Perhaps I would suddenly realise MY TRUE WORTH AND PURPOSE IN LIFE – this really is the only conclusion to be drawn from all the hair dye advertisements) and yet it came with grave and unpredictable consequences also. As a teenager, imagining dying my hair always produced a little terrified thrill deep within me – probably something akin to kleptomaniacs before they steal something (I think I think. I’ve never been one, so I can’t be certain). Anyway, after a few months of no-sun-Ireland my lovely blonde hair had turned the colour of dirty dishwater and suddenly dying my hair didn’t seem like such a stupid idea anymore. In fact, it seemed like the only logical solution to my dull, ordinary hair – at least, it did after reading a few back-issues of Cosmopolitan. I’d always wanted to try out red – it seemed so interesting and unique – so I did that first, with varying results. I mean, I liked it enough to keep it for a year, but something always felt a little bit wrong. For one thing, my eyebrows didn’t match.
So, on Monday, I bit the bullet and went out and bought a packet of ‘Chocolate Truffle’ hair dye before I could think about it too much. My first impression was that I looked like I was trying to be Wednesday Adams. I’ve now revised that and think I look like Louise Brooks. I’m pretty happy with looking like Louise Brooks. Despite not having realised my true worth or purpose as a human being, dying my hair brown was, overall, a success.
2) Tasting gold leaf.
I can’t say that I’ve ever wanted to try gold leaf, really. In fact, the idea of it has always seemed a little ridiculous and capitalism gone mad and not at all in anyway anything that I would be at all interested in at all at all.
However, last night my friend and I went to a very posh cocktail bar to celebrate my b’day (Oscar Wilde used to hang out there, in the day) and one of the cocktails had gold leaf decorations on it. So, I tried it, of course. Because it was there. Because we’d already ordered the cocktail. Because it was my b’day.
And it tasted like… nothing. Absolutely nada. A slight metallic twinge on the back of the tongue and that was it.
I mean, apart from the overwhelming feeling of shame and embarrassment that I was actually consuming gold leaf when, you know, there were starving children in Africa (hell, there were starving children down the road), the whole experience would have pretty much passed me by entirely. ‘Gold leaf? Huh? What? I thought that was just a mildly crunchy piece of air’.
Now, don’t get me wrong. These cocktails were a work of art. They rank amongst the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Their transient, opulent nature only added to their beauty. But, yeah. Gold leaf. Yeah. Edible gold leaf. Talk about your over-privileged consumption. Though, perhaps another way of looking at it is that I’m pretty much always that privileged in my consumption compared to the majority of the world – I’m just not ever so painfully aware of it.
So, yep, edible gold leaf was pretty much everything I ever thought it was going to be – overpriced frippery for people with too much money on their hands and nothing left to spend it on. The fact that I, myself – a bleeding-heart of the first degree, who has always had more than a soft-spot for socialism and has shied from conspicuous consumption – was actually tasting gold leaf, sent wave upon wave of identity crises crashing over my head. More so even than the brown hair (which WAS kind of making me feel like a French spy, but only really like a pretend sexy French spy from a B-grade Hollywood film – as if I was playing dress-ups). The gold leaf, however, was making me question my position in the world and how I got there and what was I doing with it and why on earth was it me and not some other person down the street that was getting to taste the exquisite nothingness of over-privilege that is cocktails with edible gold leaf.
As a taste sensation, gold leaf was certainly lacking. But, as a moral quandary to mull and ponder and worry over in the days to come, well, there are few things I can think of that would be more provoking.
To sum up the first two days of being 29 – Confusing! Thought-provoking! Identity-challenging!
Let the adventure continue!