Thursday, May 8th, 2008
I’m having a mid-20s crisis. I’ve been realizing lately that at two months shy of 27 years old, I’ve had surprisingly few periods in my life when I could say “Whateva, I do what I want,” like Cartman on my favorite episode of South Park. And suddenly – now that I’m supposed to be heading into the quieter, calmer, motherly, responsible time of my life, I’m feeling the urge to par-tay.
When I do get a chance to get out and about – like on my recent work beach trip or this past weekend when I went to visit my sister in Athens, and she gave me a guided tour of four of the town’s 42 bars – I don’t want the night to end. I’ve become known as the girl-who-doesn’t-want-to-go-to-sleep.
So I’ve been analyzing myself to figure out where these feelings are coming from, and I realized that I never really partied it up when I was young and single and practically required to be irresponsible. I’ve done surprisingly few “wild and crazy” things.
I didn’t realize just how mild-mannered I was compared with everyone else until I started reading a recent Comment Diversion at Pajiba: Scathing Reviews for Bitchy People on worst prom memories. I was shocked at all the wild shenanigans that went on at 90 percent of these people’s proms. While my proms somewhat sucked – both years my date fell through at the last minute and I ended up going with my also-single best friend, and at least a few people thought we were lesbians (which mortified me at the time, though now I wouldn’t care) – they were innocent affairs, with only the slightest hint of alcohol.
I was raised Southern Baptist, which made me feel guilty about virtually everything teenagers might enjoy. In the movie Grease, Rizzo could’ve been singing to me:
Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee
Lousy with virginity
Won’t go to bed till I’m legally wed
I can’t – I’m Sandra Dee!
I don’t drink
I don’t rat my hair
I get ill from one cigarette
Keep your filthy paws
Off my silky draws
Would you pull that crap with Annette?
I was constantly protesting being labeled a goody-two-shoes or a nerd, but in restrospect it’s clear I totally was.
Then I went to college and announced to my dormmates that I’d sworn off swearing for religious reasons (I was at the tail end of what I call my Turbo-Baptist phase). The sophomores snickered and said, “Ah, just wait. You’ll be cussing like a sailor by midterms.” And of course, they were right. Without my mother and regular Sunday services to make me feel guilty, I began a delicious spiral of sinning, doing most of the things I’d been too scared to do in high school.
Still, my sins were pretty minor. I only drank enough to make myself sick one time and promptly learned my lesson; I never had a fake ID; I never smoked even one cigarette; and I never tried pot or any other drugs. Nancy Reagan taught me well – I just said no.
Then, the summer after freshman year, I met a handsome, church-going fella named Darwin. From then on my partying ways were put on the back burner because I was too obsessed with my future husband to do much else other than canoodle with him.
We got married when I was one month shy of 21. For my bachelorette party, my friends and I had to go to the next town over because they had some bars that let in people 18 and up.
In our first couple years of marriage, I didn’t feel like partying. I wanted to stay home with my hubby as much as possible. When I had to go on business trips, I’d pout and sometimes even cry in my hotel room because I missed Darwin so much. When I was home, I was clingy and complained mightily whenever he had obligations that took him away from me even for a few hours.
But over the years, I grew up and mellowed out and felt more confident in our relationship. I no longer felt insulted when he didn’t need to spend every waking second with me. I no longer needed to spend every waking second with him, either.
I changed in other ways, too. I stopped feeling guilty about religion stuff, I converted from someone who voted for Bush in 2000 to a Jon-Stewart-worshipping liberal, I embraced my own and others’ nerdy/quirky tendencies, and I became much more open-minded in general.
So in a way I feel like I’m only just now becoming who I really am. That timid high schooler afraid she’ll go to hell for one of any number of minor infractions, that clingy newlywed completely dependent on her husband to entertain and fulfill her – they barely seem familiar to me anymore.
And this new person – this freer person – isn’t ready to settle into a routine for the rest of her life. I want to travel with and without Darwin, I want to meet new people, I want to stay up late having conversations, I want to write for real, and yes, I want to party it up a little bit. I’ve always been terrified of change, but now here I am longing for it, even going out and looking for it.
Trouble is, I think this restless person I’ve become lately makes Darwin a little nervous. Maybe even makes some of my other friends nervous. Okay, maybe even I’m a little nervous.
But that nervousness is also part of the thrill – at least it makes me feel awake.