We spent my twenty-eighth birthday in Tel Aviv, wandering around in as little clothing as possible (I ran in a bra! And didn’t even feel self-conscious!) and eating as much as possible. It was a wonderful break, as always, but I spent the whole weekend in a state that Eric termed my “grumpy quarter-life crisis,” griping about what if I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing? and I can’t tell if I’m the right meeeeee and maybe I should just work in a barrrrrr over our pretentiously-named but legitimately delicious small plates at a tiny restaurant that – birthday miracle – had my favourite New Zealand-made wine by the bottle only.
I am trying to be more spontaneous, and to that end I bought: low-quality jorts, a tank top with a beagle on it, a beautiful man-repellent tent dress from a small Israeli designer, and handmade shoes. No more agonizing over are these the best possible items of clothing I could spend my money on? Satisfice that shit for once. Although I regret the jorts because they already have a hole in the pocket and I think the button is going to fall off. But these shoes feel like they were made for my feet, and are the colour of caramel; I could fit a picnic for 12 under this dress.
I was comforted to come home and read the internet and realize that seemingly everyone is also twenty-eight and feeling the same weird nostalgic-panic that I am. Nobody tells you that at 30-2, the fact that you can’t simultaneously do everything you wanted in life – all those contradictory things, like be married and have eight kids slash be single with a fascinating revolving door of lovers; be a diplomat slash no-nonsense bartender chick slash back-country canoe guide – and that in fact, by choosing one you are not choosing the others, that you’ve – maybe without even realizing it at the time – started down a corridor and closed those other doors, maybe even thrown away the keys – is going to hit you in the solar plexus and leave you panting shallow breaths on the floor while your heart flutters in its increasingly old little ribcage.
Except that my first “real job” boss, when I was 23, explained exactly this phenomenon to me, and I nodded and said mm-hmm, yeah, totally, and had not a single fucking clue what she was saying at the time.
I used to hate reading the Choose Your Own Adventure! books because I would panic and try and hold the page so that I could go back if I made the wrong choice. But choices led to other choices (if I wasn’t eaten by a dinosaur) and I would end up running out of fingers, lose track of which bookmark was where I made the wrong turn, berate myself that if only I had taken the treasure and ran the story would’ve turned out better.
Satisficing my shopping is a good start but I need to apply this to my actual life. Did I chose the right everything? Probably not. But I can’t go back and back, stopping and peering at each juncture to see if I should have hopped on a different timeline. I have some good shit going on – yes, my dog gets everything covered in fur and I occasionally make snarky comments I wish I could snatch out of people’s ears, but I am married to this funny wonderful dude and I get to use my brain at work. Could things be better or worse? Yes. But they are what they are.