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When Did I Get Old?

April 29, 2013 - Carrie Olson
“I’m so tired.

It wasn’t even 11 p.m., and I was ready to hit the hay. Here we were in the East Village, the night life had just begun to perk up and the city was alive. Neon electric, it was this sight that had attracted me to this place to begin with. Any bar, dance club, or restaurant was open for the taking and here we were. A club experience with a beauty salon façade with ‘80s music blaring from the speakers? Done. Want a cave-like experience full of goths? Here you go.

But I didn’t want it. Sure, some of the delis looked appealing – a cup of coffee and a mozzarella and pastrami sandwich sounded wonderful. If my cell phone’s time was right, it was tea time. Followed by my loaned library book and finished with sweet slumber under my down blanket.

When my 21st birthday finally hit in September (a few years back or more), I was ready. I was in a university town with a vibrant night life. I wanted to stay up past closing time, attend after-hours parties, and get the full “college experience.” Sundays were not meant solely for studying, but also as a coping period for excessive hangovers. That’s just what that day of rest was for – resting. On my black futon with a bowl of soup and a Subway sandwich. Monday came along and I was brand new.

“Anyone even like this music?”

When did music and noise become synonymous? The White Stripes that had been playing overhead had been replaced by a thumping and high-pitched electric piano. A melody of four notes played over and over to obviously a giant smashing footprints into cement. Beauty to my ears. While I sat, trying to bob my head to a bass line that stayed inconsistent, everyone else danced liked madmen. So, they had figured it out. I had no interest in doing so, and I stayed perched on my chair covering up with my North Face coat/blanket.

In college, I used to hang out with a group of friends who ironically danced. It was crazy fun. We’d go to so many clubs and make any time a hysterical farce. People would come try to grind with our group, while we continued our grooving ways. Costumes were involved.

“Um, I’m not your baby.”

While waiting in line for lengthy amounts of time for the bathroom (a bathroom that looked like it could have been constructed for Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”), a guy decided it was a perfect opportunity to rub the small of my back while calling me baby and sweet talking me. One, who was he kidding? Two, was I the last one on his list? I was pretty crabby, my makeup was melting, and I looked like I could care less by his persuasive tone. “Move along,” I thought, as he left by my “puh-leeze” eye rolling. My hand never strayed far from my pocket full of mace. I continued on to the dirty bathroom with toilet paper suspended in the air by a piece of black string.

Back in my day (yeah, I’ll use that), I did care. A lot. And maybe I still like to get hit on every once and awhile, but I prefer the daylight. And a sober scene for that. I used to feel like it was such a compliment for a guy (any guy) to bestow that on me. Especially at a bar. “They chose me!” I thought as they continued their advances on the next girl.

“It hurts…remind me why I did that?”

The next day. While my college schedule allowed for such setbacks, my "now" does not. My days off are meant for going on a run, reading books, discovering new places and experiencing new things. Not for wasting it. Not for being laid up in bed wondering why I am no longer 21.

Don’t get me wrong. I can stay out past 11 some nights, and I enjoy throwing back a couple glasses of martinis on a night out with friends. But I think those bar-crawling days might be behind me. For good reason. I get sad and sentimental over the nights I stayed out until the wee hours of the morning, and arrived back home exhausted with stilettos in hand. But my purse was always empty of money, my head was constantly throbbing, and I felt like I had nothing to lose.

So am I getting old or growing up? Sometimes it's hard to grasp that they might mean the same thing.


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