Saturday, August 23, 2014

10 Things I Said At 25 That I Laugh About Today

Some of the outfits I wore were pretty terrible, and my two-toned hair was even worse (though I suppose not by 1994 standards on both counts). But the most ridiculous things about the 25-year-old me probably came out of my mouth.

1. "I don't want to live past 40." After all, I figured, my life would technically be over then anyway. Right? Yeah, I know. What did I know? Now that I'm 45, 40 seems so young. And it's getting younger. Last week, my friend Dave sent me a comforting message: "60 is the new 40." Really? Does that mean I'm only 25 then? No, Dave admitted, but it means we haven't come anywhere near our self-imposed expiration dates. In fact, by Dave's math, I'm as far away from it now as I was at 25!

2. "Why doesn't he dress his age?" At 25, I had one steadfast dating rule: I would never go out with a guy if he was wearing tennis shoes when we met, and if he wore them on our first date, there wouldn't be a second one. Tattoos and piercings were a plus, but if you looked like you might run away, I preferred that you did. The way I saw it at the time, nice shoes equaled class, ambition and maturity. I remember a discussion I once had with my first boyfriend, Derek, about what I thought should be the late-twentysomething dress code. I was 23, and he was 28. I was way too pressed and starched for my age (for any age), and I thought he and his contemporaries should be phasing out casual wear in favor of more button-down shirts and dress pants. Oh, and for God's sake, I insisted in my head, lose the back pack. It's so college, and you're almost 30!

Flash forward 22 years, and I rarely leave home without my back pack, usually dressed in a t-shirt and track pants. (The ex who dumped me when I was 34 because he wanted a "t-shirt-and-jeans guy" would love me now.) Slipping into something more comfortable and staying in it is a perk of living in warm countries and not having to work in an office. I intend to enjoy it as long as I can, pushing 50 be damned!

3. "I'm going to stop going out after I hit 30." This blog post was inspired by an article I read today called "Gay Men Over 30 Should Stay Out Of The Clubs." I chuckled when I read it and didn't get offended by anything the author wrote. He'll live and learn. I know I did. (Read how here.)

4. "He's not my type."  At 25, my "type" looked a lot like Billy Crudup in Jesus's Son (a movie that came out five years later), but few of the guys I actually went out with looked anything like that. The more men I dated, the more different the men I dated seemed to be. Somewhere along the way (probably around the time I made it through most of the countries in Europe and was working on South America and had dabbled in pretty much every race and multiple ethnicities), I realized that I don't actually have a type at all. I like what I like, which, at this point, could be pretty much anyone, as long as he's legal, out of the closet and breathing.

5. "No one will ever love me that way again." When I broke up with Derek, I cried on the phone to my mother, complaining that no one would ever again love me like that. Her words: "You're right. No one will. But you'll meet someone else who'll love you differently. It won't be the same. But it'll be just as good, if not better." She was right. So now, even in my darkest days of chronic singledom, when I've made peace with possibly flying solo from here on out, I haven't given up hope. Chances are I'll love and be loved again.

6. "I'll/I'd never..."  and "I won't/wouldn't..." Absolutes are pointless. And it took me breaking pretty much every one of my own rules to realize that they were pointless, too. As I grow older and find myself in situations that I never thought were likely, I'm learning to throw out the rules and just let life happen.

7. "I'll always keep up with the sound of the times." Who knew then that the prevalent sound of 2014 would be so borderline unlistenable? Full disclosure time: I probably haven't heard most of the singles on Billboard's Hot 100, or even in the Top 40 this week! Is it my age, or is a lot of today's music that bad? I'd call it a mix (old age, awful songs). I'm still occasionally turned on by new music. Indeed, I secretly like "Story of My Life" by One Direction, and one of my favorite albums of the last year is Pure Heroine (the extended edition) by 17-year-old singer-songwriter Lorde. At the end of the day, though, I'd usually rather listen to a flashback '70s episode of Casey Kasem's "American Top 40" than suffer through most of what passes for contemporary pop music.

8. "I want to be retired by 50." It took me leaving cushy well-paying gigs in my comfort zone (New York City), moving into the great wide unknown (first Buenos Aires, then Melbourne, then Bangkok, then Cape Town) and writing practically for free for me to realize how much I love what I do. Someday I'll return to the 9-to-5 office grind (and hopefully decent paychecks), and I'll still continue to write for free. When I'm on my deathbed, they'll probably have to pry my laptop -- or whatever people are using to write circa 2029 (if I do end up sticking to No. 1 using Dave's math) -- out of my cold, clammy, wrinkly hands. And my famous last words will no doubt be in a blog post.

9. "I never will marry." That's what Linda Ronstadt sang on one of her 1978 singles, and she wasn't kidding. She never did marry. While being someone's husband has never felt like my path either, I'm old enough and wise enough now to see it as improbable rather than impossible. Not only because I never say "never" anymore but also because evolving marriage laws around the world have made me free to be a husband if I ever choose to be one (in certain countries and U.S. states).

10. "The more, the merrier."  Less isn't just more; it's easier. Baggage weighs you down, figuratively and literally. In my case, I had to spend decades accumulating to finally realize that most of the stuff I'd acquired was junk. Today the most important inanimate things in my life are my thoughts, my ideas and my words, and they don't weigh a thing.

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