not sure if i’ve ever mentioned this, but i live in a university town. usually, i find this to be a plus. i love the opportunities that a nearby university offers (and i live within a few miles of two); extended learning classes, football games, a nice bowling alley, smart people.
the other day, though, i went up to the campus of my alma mater and i was subjected to some unexpected shock therapy. i was sitting in the waiting area of the english department, where i was meeting a former professor. as i waited, i pretended to read a book, although really i was judging people as they walked by. i do this often; i like to deduce things about people from appearance alone. a couple will stroll by holding hands, completely oblivious to the world around them, and i’ll be like, seriously, girl? that guy is a total six. you’re at least an eight: dump him immediately.
then i feel better about myself and the fact that i am married to a ten and that i am a forty, and bibbity-bobbity-boo, i am floating on clouds made of the vapor of other people’s tears of disappointment with their mundane existences.
what the hell…i forgot what i was writing about.
oh yeah, so i was waiting for my professor, and this gaggle of females walks past me, talking about their class schedules and trailing a cloud of victoria’s secret perfume behind them. and i just stared and stared. i couldn’t stop staring, and all i could think to myself was, i bet i look like a creepy old lady to those girls right now. but still i stared. and as the girls walked away without so much as a glance in my direction, i felt my youth slowly leaking out of my eyeballs.
it was so weird, like my young-adult self was taking leave of my body, and in its place was adult alexis. i sat down in the professor’s office, and i felt so damned tired. i felt every single day of my twenty-seven and some-odd years etched deeply on my face, and i could barely keep my eyes open.
this is not to say i feel old, because i don’t really. i feel…used, worn. i look in the mirror and my skin is dull, my eyes are bloodshot, and my expression is guarded. it seems a cruel function of my memory that i can recall so clearly the girl i was just a few years ago, when i had hardly a care and my toenails were nearly always presentable.
those girls who walked past me, i was one of them when i came to college. i had everything i could have wanted: friends who i could stay out late and then sleep through class with; a boyfriend (sei) who had a car, a high squeezy butt, and very little chest hair (i’m not a fan of the chesticular hair); a brain that functioned quite well, as opposed to my brain of today, which i’m pretty sure looks like swiss cheese; and oh, the boobs. really really nice ones, no bra required.
i kept holding on to that image of myself, even after graduating, helping sei through business school, having two kids, and eating lots of pastries. but sitting in that waiting area and watching a new generation of clueless girls clatter past me in their totally impractical shoes i came to the realization that the alexis of yesteryear is long gone.
and you know what? i wasn’t bitter, not even a little. yes, i kind of miss that body and the optimism that comes with youth. but i cherish every experience that’s come my way since those days, even the ones that made me shake my fist at god and scream, “why me?”
mostly what i wanted to do was grab one of those girls by the shoulders and shake her and say, “listen to me good, girlfriend! buy a really skimpy bikini and wear it everywhere, even religion class, because that body won’t last long! stop chasing boys, almost all of them suck and you’ll find the right one in the least likely place! stop ignoring your mother’s phone calls, you’re making her sad! save all your college papers, because you might need them someday! don’t buy the unlimited dining plan; you don’t need to eat at three in the morning, and it’ll give you a fat ass! and give yourself a break, you’re pretty awesome the way you are!”
the funny thing is, even as i notice the changes in my body and mind and feel a different phase of life coming on, i still feel so young at heart. in fact, in some ways i feel much younger now than i did ten years ago. my knees creak when i sit and i can’t sleep through the night without having to adjust my body pillow, but my eyes are wide open. when i was a teenager, all i wanted was to finish what i was doing and move on to the next experience–time couldn’t pass fast enough. now, i just want life to slow down so i don’t miss a thing.
as life speeds ahead, i find myself leaping head-first into new adventures, and i’m not afraid, regardless of my age. if anything, i only feel more prepared for whatever disappointments these novel experiences may bring, because i’ve been down that path before–my life has been but a string of ecstatic occurrences tempered with brutal disappointment. i just don’t want to live out my entire life and look back and think to myself, “crap, i really should have just worn that stupid bikini.”