Shorts - c/o Romwe, Turquoise Bracelet - c/o Vanessa Mooney, Everything Else - Vintage + Konstantino
I woke up on my birthday with a fever. It was nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit. A normal human body is supposed to be something like 98.6 on a healthy day, but my resting temperature has always been more like 96.8. Everything about me just has to be so fucking special.
I get sick often. Even that, in some perverse way, is special.
"Hi! My body buckles from the weight of my own uniqueness. It can barely sustain all of the life that thrives within me!"
At age 16, I found these nuanced eccentricities romantic. Now, freshly 26, I find them obnoxious. Being special doesn't stop you from aging just like everyone else. It just makes your health insurance premiums higher.
Brit had a surprise party for me in her backyard. You probably wouldn't consider it a party. At age 16, I would not have considered it a party. Parties are where you meet strangers and do cocaine in bathrooms and dance without caring if you like the music. This was 6 of my 8 friends, some with plus ones, sitting around a table in Brit's back yard, drinking Mountain Dew on my behalf and eating pizza, passing around a joint. Isabel blew up balloons for me. Brit painted an Eye of Horus onto an ice cream cake. It was one of those things that seems painfully ordinary, but if I think about it too much, it will really just make me break down and cry over the sincerity of it all. I'm like that, sentimental. It's not very cool or whatever, and I've spent the last ten years of my life in flux between the heartbreaking truth of that sentimentality and a hard-edged calloused attempt to cope with life by rejecting it. I can't read the news. Each death is a person.
I left early with a headache and went home and straight to bed, but woke up just hours later with a panic attack. I began to take inventory of my life. Simple things seemed to hold more importance. Last week, I dyed my hair highlighter yellow. I did it because. Now, it is an existential quandary. Do I want to be the type of 26-year old who dyes her hair highlighter yellow? Yes, I decided quickly. Yes, I do. I do not, though, want to be the type of 26-year old who trips over shoes in her apartment on the way to the bathroom. I need to work on being more tidy. That's an adult thing to do.
I had been working on a list, leading up to my birthday, of four things I wanted to do by the age of 30. Four things, four years. It seems reasonable enough, but all I really feel like doing is scratching at my flesh, which itches and burns as though it is on the wrong body. Despite my rational self-assurances to the contrary, 26 feels so permanent. It's no longer about potential. It is about reality. Potential is irrelevant, and mine has all been wasted.
The reformed gangsters in my high school government class thought I would be President. "Shit, girl, you hella smart! You gonna be President or some shit like that."
I didn't realize was being "smart" meant. In my head, it wasn't that important or even true. It was just another thing that made me special. Really, though, it's an obligation, and obligation to do something more, to do something better, to do something that matters. I fall short. I sit in my messy apartment, and I talk about clothes, and sure maybe I try to talk about the social importance of aesthetic expression and the feminist implications of aesthetic ownership, but still, I fall short. I should be building nerves out of copper wire and finding ways to stop the WB and IMF from stealing from underdeveloped nations.
I talk to friends about this sometimes, other friends who grew up "smart". We know it's just about testing. "We just tested well; that doesn't actually mean we are smarter or better than anyone, and those tests all have so much bias built in," we say. I know it's true, but part of me also wonders if maybe some part of it is just an excuse. "But what if that's not it. What if we were our generation's best bet? What if we really are somehow more intelligent or capable than 99.9% of our peers, like those tests all said? Shouldn't we be changing the world or something?" I say that, but I know the truth. The world never really changes. It just finds new ways to fuck with different people.
One of the things on my list, the list of four things for the next four years, was to to write. I've put off writing. I'm not old enough to have any real perspective. I read these writers under 30. They write about art openings and the internet and post-college privileged white angst. They write about shit like how they feel on their 26th birthdays. It feels so gauche, so cocky, so masturbatory. Every day, the written word carries less and less weight, and this is what you write about? Maybe they will turn it into an indie rom com. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanal will star. Is that what I'm supposed to do -- write what I know? How can I do that when I don't know anything worth talking about?
I want to write about what we don't know. I want to write about things that are make believe. I want to write about outer space and utopian colonies and string theory bullshit. I want to stumble through words, trying to find the combination that most closely explains the feeling of purpose you get after you have great sex. I want to write infantile fantasies about worlds that will never exist. I want to turn them into terrible B-Movies in which Nicholas Cage inexplicably decides to star. I want to write to escape reality. I want to create something ridiculous in which we can take momentary delight, even if that delight is at the sheer audacity and immaturity of it all. Maybe bad art is more important than good art because it allows us to connect with each other, to share in the experience of mutual distaste, to entertain others with our stories about just how bad bad can be.
Why am I telling you this, strangers on the internet, who only really care about seeing what stupid outfits I wear or trying to figure out if your clothing company can in some way benefit from having me feature a product on my blog as though my body were a free billboard and not an incredible fucking testament to the improbable and frighteningly unpredictable nuances of natural phenomena?
I'm not sure. I think it has something to do with honesty.