Aging in Purgatory: Leaving the twentysomethings behind

I realized today I am living in a sort of purgatory of the ages. I no longer consider myself a “twentysomething.” That term is reserved for the (undergraduate) college ages – the 20 to 23-year-olds, maybe the occasional 24-year-old, who are optimistically looking forward to what they are going to be when they grow up (i.e. graduate college).

When I was a twentysomething, I wasn’t living the typical college life. I worked full-time, paid rent, utilities, and car payment, etc. But so did the majority of my friends. I did live the twentysomething life in relationships from time to time. I had good ones, short ones, long and horrible ones. I was tortured and pouted about it, and it served as great fodder for my poetry.

But I’m over it now. Though I am 26, I am no longer a twentysomething. By definition, I can’t be. I am in a great relationship, have a good car that I picked out myself, and I own my own home. I have over a year’s experience in a job in my career field.

But at 26, where do I fit in? I like my job, but I don’t want to stay in the exact area forever. Am I too old to try something new? Am I missing something by not trying harder to get something that matches me a little better? Am I doing the right thing by working on my master’s degree?

I’m not married. But we own a house together, so we’re not “just dating,” either. I’m comfortable in this middle ground now – a benefit of the middle 20s. I’m not in that pressure-zone of the 30s, and not in that “what will I do when we break up because I know this won’t last much longer” pit of the early 20s.

I look at the twentysomethings and see the huge gap that exists between them and me. They giggle and chat – I laugh and talk. They drink long island iced teas and eat bar food. I drink red wine and my favorite bar closed down. They wear skin tight pants and cropped shirts. I have hips and a ghetto booty – which I actually have grown to love (and get complimented on quite frequently, believe it or not). I wear suits and business casual to work, they wear the black pants and white shirt that most wait-staff wear.

But I also have a little cellulite and a little belly, and they are toned flat and firm – compliments of their gym memberships (paid for no doubt by adoring, supportive parents, or by the student activity fees that let you use the Rec Center on campus). I have a gym membership, too, but I don’t have time to use it. When I do have free time, outside of my 40+ hours at work and 400+ hours of homework, I’d rather bury my head in my computer – a much more efficient means of reading nowadays.

Twentysomethings surround themselves with as many friends as possible in any given second. They collect roommates in threes, and know they’ll spend every weekend in some sort of frenzied atmosphere full of a newness only twentysomethings can appreciate. New people enter and leave twentysomethings’ circles so often, it’s expected. And welcomed.

I have narrowed my circle to include a few friends who I know I will have for life. This circle is capable of expanding to include more, but contact is made mainly via e-mail. My two dearest friends and I get together about once a month, but they, like me, are beyond the twentysomethings’ mode of communication as well. They know how important time is to be had alone. They don’t throw tantrums or talk shit when I say I can’t hang out. We value our time together, but we value our time alone, too. We are old enough to know not to waste time, but aren’t old enough yet to know exactly why.

I am comfortable in this purgatory. I am in a good place with my career and personal life. But I can’t help but look back on the past (mainly the years 1999-2002) and wonder where the hell it went. Those years have disappeared completely. I remember snippets, warm and cold, pain and pleasure. I see faces and smell scents, and every once in a while I can hear voices. Wait, that might be bad. :)

I am not old enough to be 30. Ew. No way. I am not old enough to start “planning for my future.” I refuse to invest in my 401k – I don’t even know what my employer calls their retirement plan. I refuse to wear straight-leg jeans, and you’ll rarely see me in a button-up shirt. I play my music too loud, and hate republicans (see, I don’t even give them capitalization. They get enough of that in the real world).

I am an elusive creature. I am mature when I need to be, and immature when I want to be. I get tore up every two weeks, and bask in the horror of my hangover. I live for the weekends, though for rest, not the scandal.

I am in my glory days, or so I choose to believe. That 25-28 age range where I’m too young to completely grow up, yet too old to know that I already have.