POV: The Younger Generation.

POV ("point of view") is a series that addresses many of the same themes covered in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. Each POV entry will include a photograph and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV will focus on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories. 

On a recent frigid Monday, I had dinner at a neighborhood restaurant with Jamie and Megan. At the table next to us were two girls, tiny and twig-like, one in a neon orange beanie and braces, the other with a pixie cut and thick swipes of glitter eyeliner. “How old are those girls?” I said, looking over. “Ten?”

As soon as the words left my mouth, I overheard a snippet of their conversation, something about just having graduated college. As they compared notes, a waitress appeared table-side, carrying a tray of enormous coconut milkshakes. Cream spilled over the edges.

I had a sudden, ridiculous thought: Look at those twenty-one year olds, so young, their whole lives ahead of them. I shuddered.

The girl in the neon beanie laughed, flashed her braces, sipped her milkshake.
In LA this Christmas, during the many hours of driving that occurred in the span of fourteen days, I realized that I had no idea who I was hearing on the car radio. I also hated everything I was hearing on the car radio. That’s exactly how an old person would feel, I thought. To be sure, I consulted a friend. “Do you think that the fact that I hate KIIS FM says something about me, or does it say something about the state of pop music?”

I crossed my fingers for the latter.

“It’s you,” she said.

At twenty-eight, my friends and I are coming to the uncomfortable realization that there's a generation of adults in our city who are younger than we are. We’re no longer fresh out of college. And we’re no longer new to New York City, which is, mercifully, full of people our age who are just as unsure, and just as broke, and just as un-grown-up as we are. 

Still, we’re at a strange point, where it’s okay to not know what we want or where we’re headed, but where this uncertainty seems to carry consequences that it once didn’t: that we’ll never save enough to retire, that we’ll have roommates forever, that we’ll casually date until we’re forty and never settle.

“We’ll be twenty-nine this year, and thirty next year,” Lily said the other day, after which I very nearly vomited. “Does this mean we have to start being serious about things?”

As the youngest in my family and the youngest among most of my friends, I’ve always been comfortable being the baby. But I’m no longer the youngest in my community - which is known for its unending influx of fresh faces. And to add insult to injury, time only seems to pass more and more quickly as days and weeks and months and seasons come, go, and come again.

Last year, on the last day of summer, I jumped over the sandbags lining the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach and stood with my feet in the ocean, watching them disappear beneath gentle waves. Everything was gray, lukewarm. 

Behind me, a woman sat on a rock with her dogs. “There could be snow on the ground tomorrow,” she called. The wind blew and she hugged herself. 

She smiled. She tossed her white hair. “Soak it in,” she said.
You can find my previous POV entries, here, and the archive for my personal essay column on the Equals Record, here. Thank you so much for your support, as always!

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