One night in Mar del Plata I took myself out to dinner at a cuban restaurant and got chatted up by a couple of youngsters at the bar while I was waiting for my table. They asked me how old I was (a question that seems to get flung around with quite a lot more abandon in those parts than it does here). I told them and they gasped; they played their surprise off as a compliment but really it seemed to me not so much surprise that I could be that age but that ANYONE could be that advanced of an age. They were both (God help me) twenty years old. Once they recovered themselves they assured me (or themselves, I don't know which) that this age difference was actually not all that large. Oh but it is, I told them, you'll see.
In fact, being in South America again provided me with a particularly good window on this exact difference because the first time I'd been down here, I was that age. Traveling and living abroad during my impressionable college years forever changed the way I see the world and gave me some of the best memories of my life. I noticed the occasional young American student in Buenos Aires and each time it reminded me in a visceral way that I am not so young anymore. And also that I'm pretty pleased about that.
It's pretty easy to look back on my college days with rose colored fondness when life as a grown lady starts feeling complicated. My only big responsibilities then were writing and tennis: this is pretty much the exact life I want now (if only I could get someone to pay me to do these things instead of the other way around). But then I remember the angst of my early twenties, the feeling that I had no idea what I was doing, that no one took me seriously. the emotional ups and downs that pummeled me on a near daily basis. Sometimes I miss that girl: the way she just said what was on her mind and in her heart without worrying about the consequences, but other times I just feel glad I'm not her any longer.
Part of what inspired this list was the idea that my twenties were supposed to be about something: finding myself, independence, adventure, risk taking that my circumstances won't countenance later in life. Not to say that all of this goes out the window once I hit 30 (or 40, 50 or 60), simply that I don't ever want to look back and I say 'I wish I'd done X when I had the chance'.
I've had some good times here in my third decade: I've had exciting jobs and travelled the word, loved, lost, learned and lived--still I have a feeling I won't miss my twenties when they're gone.
Do you miss your younger days or is the best still yet to come?