I refuse to be remembered as a waste of space, but this is exactly who I was. As I laid there trying to solve the world's ills by solving my own, I unpacked my emotional baggage with the worst tequila-cigarette-tinged breath ever. This was exactly where I needed to be. Rock bottom. Unemployed. Single. Lost. Empty, sexless and wasted, still trying to figure it all out. I had lost my way somewhere between the dream of being a media maven, keeping it real and quite a few fraudulent relationships. I had totally mind-fucked myself into craving the hustle and needing the life sans the reward or preparation for tomorrow. Sure, I had my independence, but I also had zero in my savings account... until Wednesday, and it was only Sunday.
Last night was mad real, I thought to myself, as I turned away from the blazing sun pouring in through the window. I tucked myself tighter into the makeshift sleeping bag I made of my sheets. Advil would be good right about now. No, a can of coke. A cheeseburger from Shake Shack, even better. But who was I kidding? There was nothing on Earth that would stop this room from spinning, other than a few more hours right where I was, away from the madness. I wasn't going anywhere.
To think, just a few days ago I crossed that imaginary threshold: I turned 35. And in New York City, that's a prison term for the single and upwardly mobile, a death sentence for someone in media. But I was both, and definitely 35. When the clock struck 12, albeit digital, I remember checking my ID several times to redo the math. Maybe I had gotten it wrong, you know. I mean, 1978 did feel like eons ago, but I was an '80s baby, too. I'm a millennial for chrissakes. And 35 just feels... old.
As if I were in my second childhood, or worse -- facing a quarter-life crisis a couple of years too late -- I was still trying to live the life of a proverbial 27-year-old. Sleepless nights, parties, booze, cab rides for nothing. What had I done with my time? Okay, I have a career, or had one rather, but just like most of my peers who had seen lots of money in the early 2000s, we made it rain on a couple of cheap thrills trying to keep up with god knows who and ended up with... nada. Oh, but those last minute trips to South Beach and the music festivals, un-for-gettable. Sure, we were working, but we lived! Did it up with the best of them, and at a time when some of the major movers and shakers on the scene were still accessible. Shit, we were the movers and shakers. But at 35 had I become an old hag trying to stay hip? Like that lady in the grocery store with the over-processed, two-toned highlights, donning last season's patterned tights (which absolutely don't flatter her shape)? Please say I'm not her?!
I mean, I have no grays. My ass is still perky. I still get carded sometimes. I still wear kicks -- I still call them kicks! -- and I am, by no means, or ever will be, ready for some picket fences. That's never been my dream. To be a census statistic was never a part of the equation, but neither was this. My timeline looked more like (in no particular order): Millionnaire by 27 (writing books and running my business from home), kid number two by 30 (jogging in Central Park with babies in tow), husband (must be fine and tall, thank you), 1969 Porshe (Roadster, preferably, like the one on my highschool bedroom wall), trips (everywhere; Brazil and India, often), lofts in two cities (London and L.A.), a brownstone in NYC, and a summer home in the Hamptons or maybe in the Caribbean. Now eight years past my first deadline and I had completed none of the above.
I even managed to spend the last of my unemployment check dousing out the pangs of my reality with Herradura, on top of the various elixirs I managed to snag at the open bar jumpoffs last night. You would think that holding media carte blanche would come in handy right now, right? Wavy during a week like CMJ. No need to carry plastic or cash, since my name would be on every list, and I could get away with not tipping the bartenders guilt-free. Nope. And I really tried to avoid the circuit at first, topping myself with the "I'm mature now" hat, "I don't need to go to everything..." "I can be selective..." So how did I end up drunk and bothered four nights in a row, and broke? My body couldn't keep this up even if I wanted to. But something in me just had to do it.
Maybe it's the falling outside of the bracket that was killing me. Think about it: The minute you hit 18, you immediately find yourself in that ultimate sweet spot. For me, it was the golden ticket to brands, Fortune 500s, media conglomerates, record labels, hip fashion houses. Everyone in it for a check or a say in the matter fighting tooth and nail to latch on because I was young enough to not care about my decisions, and old enough to spend. I could afford to be reckless and free. I was experimental, super creative, courageous, and stunning. I could afford to buy a $34 t-shirt from American Apparel, or three or four, even if they were just tees, because you know what? You can never have enough. I ventured to seedy dive bars in the wee hours of the night and traveled to destinations unknown solo on a whim. And who cared if I preferred to buy new undies as opposed to doing laundry?
That is the nature of being young and unhampered, however absurd and impractical or far from safe. And it's this wellspring of youth that often leaves older heads clamoring, wanting to be you and doing anything just to have you in their circle, even if for just a moment. It's an era that I'm not so sure I'm ready to give up just yet, honestly. Especially not as a trade-off to some lofty aspiration of becoming as accomplished as my senior comrades with beaucoup cash, just so I could rise to the top of this geriatric pool I'm wading in. No... 18-34 are the years I felt alive. And now, nothing was the same.