I’m feeling rather old today.
Whenever I say something like that it’s met with a flurry of derision and cries of “nonsense” because, as always, there are many people in my life older than I am. 24 may not confer coffin dodger status, but it has given me an odd moment to ring the changes.
My own mother was married with a baby on the way at this age. For six years I’ve been living in a state of occasionally blissful independence. The bills to pay, the arrangements to make: all of these are my responsibility and when I haven’t done it right I’ve borne the consequences. I read a book this week about people who meet up after many years with the kids they went to primary school with. After an initial readjustment to my own native culture, I found myself slightly sceptical that any of these people would still remember each other after such a long time; then I realised how long it’s been since I left primary and yet how much of it is perfectly preserved in my memory.
I seem to have settled so quickly, into domesticity and stability: things I thought I would never achieve regardless of how many years I spent pursuing them. My address book now, a paper relic held over from the days before I even saw a real computer, is beginning to fill not with single names at parents’ addresses, but with couples in sort of trendy city apartments. Work numbers and extensions mingle with the personal and work emails, and in people I’ve known for some years, the changes are either astounding or nonexistent. Stalled or flying, very few in between.
I worry the routine, the good behaviour, is making me older than I should be. I once remarked in a darkened living room that I’d been acting 35 since I was 15. Too many decisions, perhaps too soon, and I’ve never really been able to relinquish my grip on control since. The good news in all of this is that I’ve stopped blaming other people for forcing this life upon me, when I know that I’m the only one truly responsible for getting me here.
Maybe tonight or maybe this weekend I’ll remember what it’s like to be in your twenties, in the greatest city in the world, and having nobody to answer to but a loving partner and two demented cats. Then again, maybe I won’t.