This week, I lurched into D.C. twice, to attend Halsey’s hopeless fountain kingdom concert and John Green’s book tour stop promoting his new novel — both unchaperoned (I’m 22), enduring pedestrian-riddled city driving and reveling in windows-down, radio-up highway driving en route.
One insomniatic morn last month, I drove across town for an impulsive 0530 brek-brek: I chomped an omelet and buttermilk flapjacks by mesirch at dawn, and contentedly so. I recently hopped a local bar solo, bopping out upon the realization its clientele was … distinctly elderly.
As an adolescent — and young adult — I spen(t/d) an imperial ton of time alone. (As a teenager, this was often because I felt unworthy of others’ attention and affection. Psychologists call this an inferiority complex.) I was/am a social nomad: a floater, like those eye germs that cruise about your cornea. But whilst I suffered from social anxiety in yester-years of yore, my independence during what I’ve deemed my “roaring twenties” is rooted in a sense of security re: WHO I AM. Which is fluid. I fluid. Ha.
This fierce instinct to voyage my style has driven me to, e.g., shave my head to a buzzcut with clippers and a #1 guard in my bathroom … & mix thrifted patterns-n-prints in an aesthetic I christened “upholstery/tapestry chic” … & devote days to fostering my bibliophilic proclivities (translation: “I read a lot — thus my tendency to wield pretentious phrases like the one preceding theses parentheseses” (see: sesquipedalian)). Intersperse zany syntax into my writing. Et cet’ra.
Engage me in conversation and I’ll wax and wane poetic on slices of the universe I find most enthralling. (One guaranteed method to elicit a fervent discussion/argument with your girl here: Cultivate a stance, a hierarchy, if you will, on Rory Gilmore’s boyfriends. My verdict — Jess for her, Dean for me.) (Logan was a dick.)
Over time, I’ve excavated tidbits and tenets to mine own happiness via, like, a personal archaeological dig. Much of this sifting/searching is done in solitude. I’ve learned the difference between feeling blisteringly lonely vs. being alone.
I spent years fancying myself a “plundering ogress,” traversing the swampland from self-loathing to something approximating -acceptance. Embracing Emily’s idiosyncrasies feels worthwhile given the Noble Truth that I’m preordained to hang with her till I shuffle off this mortal coil. I aspire to embody J.K. Rowling’s “gift of self-possession”; charging forth, triceratops-esque, reminds me I belong to myself.
When I was 17, at an end-of-summer swim team pool party, a tiny blond imp named Sheldon proclaimed he wanted to be “the next Michael Phelps.” My visiting cousin suggested he instead become “the first Sheldon.” Such profundity, godDAMN!
I hate dispensing advice/flinging hollow platitudes because most of them are fallible and cliché, but this Stephenism strikes me as solid: Become the first Sheldon. And if that requires one to sloth stag, SLIP ’N’ SLIDE, rockstar. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to flip through pocket dictionaries for fun and generate a library digitally aKindle to Belle’s in Beauty and the Beast.