I haven’t really left my bed in three days now. I’ve been living off of smoothies and vegetable juice and Advil. I have a bra tied around my head with bags of frozen peas in its B-cups, pressed against my cheeks.
I can’t say that getting my wisdom teeth pulled has been a highlight of my summer.
But as with all shitty experiences, I am reminded that there is no lack of goodness in my life. My friends and family, per usual, have made this whole thing a million times more tolerable. I know I always gush about this stuff, but I’m feeling pretty lucky to have friends that will bring me fresh vegetable juices and sunflowers, that will make me CDs and laugh at my hilarious post-op selfies, that will check up on me daily and text me for hours about absolutely nothing. I appreciate it all: the sweet notes, all of the yoga/climbing documentaries and books being sent my way, the positive thoughts. Thank you all.
A big thank you goes to my Mom–she drove my drugged up ass home from the dentist as I tried to convince her that I had to go back to the office to help the nurses clean up my blood. She has also had to put up with what some of my friends call “Hungry George”–an experience I would never wish upon anyone. When you’re accustomed to eating like a climber (a human garbage disposal) and then can only eat (drink) liquids, your body kind of freaks out and thinks it’s starving to death (or is that just me?). So needless to say, Hungry George has been in full force. Thank you Mama, for putting up with me and buying every flavor of ice cream and soup that Whole Foods offers.
Sitting in bed for three days (almost four now) can do weird things to a person. More than anything it makes me so grateful for my health and mobility because I don’t think I’m one of those people who wouldn’t go insane if I was immobile for a long period of time. On one hand it has been really relaxing–I realize that I haven’t done nothing for a whole day, let alone three days, in many years. After the initial restlessness wore off and I accepted the fact that I’m not going to move for a while, my body started to sink into the rest, that full body release like at the end of a yoga class or when you’re falling asleep after a long day of climbing. I haven’t felt this relaxed since I got back from Wyoming a few weeks ago. In fact, before I got my teeth pulled, I hadn’t felt relaxed by any means of the word. I’m not even sure that I had taken a deep breath. My nervous system felt high-powered and electric from transitioning into the city and going back to work and figuring out my life and what to have for lunch.
My goal going into these few bedridden days was to figure out big girl stuff like getting a real job with benefits and settling down somewhere and saving money. As soon as the crazy dentist drugs wore off and I stopped asking my Mom to take pictures of me holding my teeth like a proud seven year old would, I started writing. I made two lists: one was of the things that are working in my life, and the other was of things that aren’t working. Thankfully I’m blessed as hell, so there wasn’t anything terrible on my “not working” list, but I’ve been told that most about-to-turn 25 year olds are overly dramatic and critical of their lives, so I felt better about listing out a handful of first world problems.
The lists kind of helped, but for the most part, seeing my life in a neat chart with two columns (that I drew with a ruler) seemed like a pretty shitty representation of how things actually are. A more accurate attempt at this would be less of a measured list and more of a wall-sized Jackson Pollock kind of thing with a lot of different colored paint and maybe some vodka. But I didn’t want to make my Mom deal with Hungry George AND cleaning up an art project, so I decided to take a nap instead.
I dreamed of Italy. Of the summer I lived there, drinking ridiculously good wine and eating gelato at 9am, of how the light would turn everything rosy in the afternoon and drench the grasses of the hillside I sit on with my friend, how she looks at me with smiling eyes and an index finger to her lips, and then runs through a farmer’s orchard and brings back a branch, heavy with olives. I dreamed of Barcelona, how in its churches I felt like, yeah, this is how it should be, of Florence and how I stared straight into the eyes of Birth of Venus and felt like, yeah, I’m pretty in love with being a woman. And then, of Paris, when I was only fifteen, and how I had a conversation with a store owner and it took me ten whole minutes to realize that I was speaking in French. I dreamed of Cinque Terre, when we ate pasta with pesto and how when it got dark we stripped off our dresses and swam out into the sea, we floated face up, fingers stretched wide, how we watched a meteor shower like that.
I dreamed of the summer I lived in the van, that stormy afternoon in the San Juan mountains, how the clouds started to twist and bleed into each other like watercolors and it rained the whole night. I remember driving through the desert for hours, with hours more ahead of me, and how sometimes I would sing really loud and that time I twisted my ankle and the beers I shared and rivers I bathed in and all of the granite, the sandstone, the limestone. I dreamed of the nights when I was scared because I was alone, and how somehow looking out the van windows at something like the moon made me feel brave again. I dreamed of that feeling you get when you can’t stop laughing with your best friends, and of sunsets that made us all get quiet.
I dreamed of how when I was ten I believed I was going to be an Olympic gymnast. I dreamed of Bishop.
(It was a long nap.)
There are so many articles, TV shows, and commentaries about being in your twenties right now. It’s pretty much all my friends and I talk about in some way or another–how we don’t know what we’re doing with our lives. Even when I meet a twenty-something who I assume has things figured out, eventually it’s revealed that they don’t have any idea either. And more than anything, when we talk about this stuff, we’re just looking to answer one question:
Are we okay?
And for most of us, after a bottle of wine and talking about it for a minute, we look each other in the eyes, pause, and nod. Yeah, we’re okay. Actually, we’re kind of doing well. Wait, we’re actually having a blast and we aren’t half as cynical as we pretend to be. We might even be happy or something weird like that.
I especially love having this conversation with people who got some useless Bachelors degree and haven’t really stopped freaking out, they just keep traveling and getting seasonal jobs and somehow making ends meet. They’re the ones that this talk is the most fun with because you can see this fleeting moment when they consider settling down, being normal, but that temptation leaves them so quickly and in the next second you’re talking about whose car you’re gonna take to Squamish.
Sometimes, when we try to answer our question–are we okay?–the answer feels like a no. Maybe something shitty happened. Maybe you have a broken leg or a broken heart. Maybe your list of “things that aren’t working” takes up nine pages. Maybe you haven’t dreamed in a very, very long time.
I’ve come to realize, through many conversations with many different kinds of twenty-somethings, that no matter what issue it is that you’re having, you are very likely to be “okay”. In fact, the only time you aren’t okay is if you’re not planning your next trip or if you’re worrying about things like 401ks or if you decide to stop being weird. It’s when you start acting like an adult that you should be worried.
This applies to anyone of any age.
You just have to chose something, call it a dream or a goal if you’re okay with those overused words, and then just do the damn thing. What do you want? What do you actually want, right now, in the deepest parts of your bones? And I’m not talking about things, but how do you want to spend your days? What do you want? GO GET IT. Toughen up, get creative, and I promise you–it’s all yours.
I woke up from my nap and I wrote a poem, it was about the Italian Dolomites and how Spain or France or Greece has somehow been coming up in every conversation I have had in the past two weeks. It seemed like a much better life observation thing than the previous lists. I put down my pen.
I have never climbed outside of the United States. So I think it’s time for that. Europe is calling.