No one had slept well the night before.
Around two in the afternoon, I was sitting on my front porch with my legs hanging over the banister. My friend Alison was standing on the brick walkway, swaying from side to side. Liz sat on the front stoop.
“I wish I could just nap in the sun,” someone said.
“I shouldn’t have drank that bloody mary,” I probably said.
Across the street a party of bridesmaids walked up the front steps to the Catholic Church.
“Those are actually cute bridesmaids’ dresses,” Alison commented absently.
We watched as the happy procession disappeared behind the dark wooden doors of the church.
Then the bride came, escorted by her father. The last moments before he was to give her away, played out before our very eyes.
She looked about our age. And the three of us, despite ourselves, gawked and, yes, we swooned.
“She’s about to start the rest of her life!” Alison said.
Liz had already whipped out her iPhone.
“Instagraaaaaaam,” she said, cigarette balanced between her lips.
“Dude, my dad would not be that calm. He would be bawling his head off,” I said.
We commented on the girls dress. On her father’s awkward hand gestures. On the weather. On how perfect it all seemed.
The doors opened, and at the last second the father offered his arm. We all collectively sighed.
“I wonder who will be the first to get married out of everyone we know?”
From there our conversation veered and dipped. The three of us postulated theories on co-habitation, promiscuity, careers and happiness.
Each theory had its undertones. Each of us had baggage, or hang ups due to prior experience.
I am steadfast against ever living with a significant other, until I am absolutely sure I’m willing to watch them die one day. Alison won’t even live with a fiancé until they’re officially betrothed. Liz is ready to move in with her boyfriend as soon as the opportunity presents itself.
All convictions are valid here.
For example, my ex and I lived together, and that fell spectacularly to pieces. Conversely, I am a product of divorce. That’s not to say I don’t find the father daughter moment adorable, or the bridesmaid’s dresses tasteful. Marriage just has never, ever seriously, been something I’ve considered or even fantasized about.
I can’t, of course, speak for my two friends. But we did all agree that the bride was incredibly young.
“Could you seriously imagine marrying someone right now?”
“We don’t even know who we are right now.”
“I don’t know who I’m going to be next week.”
Inevitably, the same twenty-something-year-old question came up again. What are we supposed to do? Where are we headed? Are we doing this life thing right? When does it start being ‘not okay’ that my parents still pay my cell-phone bill?
We started to point fingers.
“I heard on the radio—NPR or something—about the way the school system when we were kids worked. Everyone told us, ‘You can do whatever you want! Anything in the world! The world is your oyster!’ So we grew up, just believing we could become anything in the world, but we never honed in on any one skill. And now, the world is knocking, and we’re like, ‘Wait, what?’” Alison said.
“Plus the recession happened,” I added.
“Yeah, and now, what they once thought was this new age, great way to teach our children, has kind of backfired completely.”
So, of course, I brought up Lena Dunham.
“Have you heard Alec Baldwin’s interview with Lena Dunham?”
Neither girl had.
“It’s soooooo gooooood,” I exclaimed.
(This consolidates the fact that I fit snugly into my demographic. I hate when people my age describe anything as, soooo gooood. And I hate when I say it.)
“It’s kind of related to what we’re talking about,” I said, gesticulating towards the church and Alison.
“Lena Dunham says, ‘If you ask a girl in her 20’s, ‘Are you a happy person?’ I think she can say, ‘I have happy moments,’ but I don’t think it’s possible, maybe people will radically disagree with me, but I don’t really think it’s possible to be sort of an at-peace human when you are between 22 and 30’.”
And if you haven’t listened to Alec Baldwin’s Here’s the Thing, and if you haven’t watched HBO’s Girls, directed by Lena Dunham, then you are perfectly normal, and probably a more well put together adult than I am. You’re probably not a twenty-something female who waitresses to pay off her art degree. You probably don’t write a senseless blog or Instagram photos of your cats.
But then again, how could one resist?
And in that same vein, a young girl in a wedding dress, across the street from your house, doesn’t spark a twenty-minute existential crisis.
During Lena Dunham’s interview, Alec Baldwin comments, “I’m much older than you, and one thing I noticed when I went to college, which is a long time ago, an interesting number of people, they really knew what they wanted to be. They weren’t quite sure how to get there, but they had a dream. ‘I want to become a lawyer.’ ‘I want to become a doctor.’ ‘I want to go into politics. And now, people today – it seems like young people, they think they have more time to figure it out. They’re turning 25 and they really don’t have that picture in focus.”
I summarized these points to Liz and Alison. Summarized, being the key word here.
We fell silent. Comforted, but still pensive.
But then again, I’m not sure if Lena and Alec made us feel at all better.
We’re all in the same boat, yes. But, are we all fucked?
Just then the groomsmen and the groom all came out of the church all wearing khakis.
“Ugh,” Alison remarked.
“Yeah, no, they look like a fraternity. Who does that?”
Just like that, our sudden brainstorm of theories and convictions ended.
We went to take naps.
We don’t have an answer, or really, a solution. Maybe the problem is too many opportunities. Maybe the problem is the world isn’t really as open as it seems. Maybe we’re still young.
Liz loves to quote a meme she saw about Stan Lee the creator of Spiderman:
Stan Lee is 90 years old.
Which means he created Spiderman at 40.
Which means you haven’t even begun to live your life yet.
I think we’re just going to have to keep fumbling in the dark until we figure it out.
But I’ll be damned if anyone will be wearing khakis.