Is this happiness?
Asking that age-old question is never easy — whether of yourself or others. Because it usually bubbles to your lips during a spat, over the course of draining a few vodka tonics, or after returning home at the end of a long, frustrating workday to a pile of Chihuahua shit.
But as most adults know, happiness isn’t some state of being. Not some odd plane of existence where the sun always shines and butterflies dance along the tops of lilies. Rather, it’s a nugget we unearth here and there as we excavate through a gray matrix of pestilence and anger and hard work that often compose our loud, loud lives.
It’s something to cherish and remark about, and enjoy in the moment — because it can be gone in an instant.
With another year inching closer, I’m incredibly frustrated — more so than I usually am around my birthday. There’s just something extra pulling me down, like a wool coat in a cold, icy pond that Macaulay Culkin pushed me into. But right when I feel like I’m dipping below the surface, one of those nuggets appears — a calming hand on my back, a wet dog nose against my cheek — and the all-consuming drag isn’t as severe; and I can breathe.
Less than a month from today, I leave my twenties behind. And all I can do is clap my hands and yell, “Good goddamned riddance!” Because the same idiots in high school who said “These are the best years of your life!” are of the same ilk as those who declared “Your twenties are your best years!”
Save the past few years, my twenties sucked. Mostly because they went a little something like this:
21: I CAN DRINK! This is so cool! I just threw up. I’M GRADUATING SOON.
22-23: Grad school is hard. I can do it. I can’t do it. I hate it here.
24: So much for that Ph.D. This motel-hopping whilst writing my thesis and defending myself against angry Travelodge prostitutes is getting old.
25: FINALLY. Grad school is almost over. Oh hey, what’s that bump on my face? Cancerous lesion? Fab.
26: Seriously, these motel prostitutes are really irritating. The Great Recession? I’m sure it’ll blow over. Why am I so broke? Wait, is this my life now?
27: Goodbye motels, hello military installation? Never saw that coming. Time to move. I LOVE GETTING DRUNK ON PORCHES. Wow, my job sort of sucks. Time to move for me. Oh hey, other LGBT people! Cute guy! I HAVE A BOYFRIEND!
28: HE MOVED IN! IHATEMYJOBIHATEMYJOBIHATEMYJOB *Glitter bomb* Let’s get the fuck out of here. HE GOT THE JOB!
29: California is beautiful and weird and scary and fun. I GOT A JOB THAT ISN’T AWFUL. GERIATRIC PUPPIES! HUSBAND!
Okay, so 29 wasn’t horrible. It’s just been crazy-busy. And even though I feel old and curmudgeonly sometimes, I’m not going to fright away from a new decade. I’m welcoming all of it.
Because I really, really, REALLY need this to be a decade full of more good things than bad, more happiness than heartache. And I think it will be.
I think one of the main reasons why I’m so all over the place lately is that I feel close to a really important goal of mine — something I want to achieve by my big 3-0 — but am absolutely terrified that it’s not going to pan out.
That’s part of the whole life package though, right? Everything doesn’t always work out the way we want.
But I can try my damndest to make it happen, to make real my Neverland — where youthful dreams and fun and potential greatness remain alive and well.
So, while I may not be able to fly, I’ll keep flapping my arms mightily. Because, who knows, I may blow by Peter Pan and surprise myself.
After all, I’m no longer a Lost Boy.