Turns out age 26 is actually the greatest

I’m sorry. I’m going to disappoint you all. I’m not going to talk about a single thing I said I would in my last post.

Because the fact is, I’m frankly incapable of talking about (or thinking about, or reading about, or dreaming about) anything other than what I’m about to tell you.

…You guys. I’m going to Europe.

No need to adjust the settings on your computer monitor, folks, you read that right. Exactly six months from right this moment, I will be traveling to London, Paris, and Rome with the greatest man who ever walked the Planet Earth.

On my 26th birthday last week, while I was busy having a quarterlife crisis – lamenting my lost years and wondering when the heck I’m going to get around to being an adult – Taylor was preparing to give me the greatest gift a human being can give another: a plane ticket, a binder full of hotels and attractions, and four travel books detailing the different European hubs we’ll be making our way to in April… forcing every other boyfriend, from here on out, to live in this gift’s perpetual shadow. Taylor makes even Ryan Gosling look like a common street corner scrub. (Upon hearing the news, a friend of mine even exclaimed, “What the hell? My husband got me pajama pants for my birthday.”)

I unwrapped my gift with tentative enthusiasm, then genuine confusion, followed by utter disbelief. As realization set in and my eyes bulged out of their sockets – I leafed through the travel binder carefully, timidly, afraid that if I turned a page too quickly or jostled the giftbag in my lap the whole fragile thing would crumble. “No,” I said. “No. No. TAYLOR!”

He told me, giddily, that we would be leaving in exactly six months to the day – my half-birthday, in fact – and that we would be seeing the most beautiful and romantic sites the continent had to offer. (Including, forgive my dweebiness – PLATFORM NINE AND THREE QUARTERS AND THE BEATLES MUSEUM)

Tears followed, along with a breathless call to my mom. Taylor ushered me through the rest of my birthday celebration – including sunset cocktails and dinner Portland’s nicest rooftop restaurant overlooking the city – and it was all I could do not to babble to every stranger I met about our plans. Everyone from our Uber driver to the hostess who sat us at our table inducted him into the Boyfriend Hall of Fame.

So, for some background: I’ve been to Europe before, with my high school vocal ensemble. It was an honor, to be selected to travel halfway across the world and sing hymns as old as the buildings we occupied – hearing our voices reverberate around high-ceilinged domes, walls lined with frescoes, itching in our long choir robes.

However, I was 16 – and with all my best friends and a handful of really cute boys. And admittedly (and perhaps characteristically), we were much more consumed with the tapestry of young love stories being woven around us than the thousands of years of history beneath our feet. We scampered past timeless works of art without pause, whispered to each other as our tourguide pointed out monumental statues, peeked around the corners of architectural masterpieces to giggle at the sight of our crushes.

I even remember, jetlagged and sorely uninterested, actually falling asleep at the pulpit of a grand Spanish cathedral… because why should I care about some historic Catholic Church – with its breathtaking ceilings and intricate stained glass windows – when, like, Stephanie and Gabe were totally holding hands under the table of that last cafe?

Youth is wasted on the young.

Not to mention – even if I’d had a more mature grasp of the setting around me… we ventured to the parts of Europe that (at the risk of sounding like a spoiled American brat) I might not have sought out of my own accord. Poland was gorgeous, to be sure – but seeing the mountains of shoes and eyeglasses of victims strewn about Auschwitz, and the horrifying chambers  – labeled on one side “Able-Bodied Men” and on the other “Women and Children” weighed heavy on my young heart.

An earth-shattering experience, no doubt about it… but it didn’t jive well with the Lizzie McGuire version of a European vacation I’d come to expect.

Needless to say I’ve been itching to return, from the moment my feet landed back on American soil a decade ago.

But Europe – Europe – that’s the stuff of miracles, isn’t it? Boarding an airplane, crossing an ocean, and landing on a foreign shore… replicating in reverse the journey our ancestors made generations ago… entering a continent with such rich history and culture, buildings that are more than 300 years old?! It was a dream, sure – but the kind of dream that only presents itself once or twice in a lifetime. I thought would come true again maybe for my honeymoon, or as a faraway work assignment from some yet unidentified future employer… or maybe in retirement, when I would think up the idea in a lace nightgown while sipping tea.

But for my TWENTY-SIXTH BIRTHDAY?! Not in a million years.

I’ve been asking everyone I can think of – from my neighbors, to my entire extended family to the FedEx guy – what recommendations they have. With only 11 days to make it through 3 (possibly 4, we’re mulling over Edinburgh) cities, I need all the advice I can get.

My travel books are dogeared, torn, folded, crossed out, and scribbled all over. I’ve got a jetlag-avoiding Melatonin regimen from one friend, a packing guide from another, a language-learning app from a third, and a long list of attractions, museums, and restaurants. Taylor and I have an entire movie marathon – from Eurotrip to French Kiss – to get through by April, and all of my friends and family are tired of hearing me talk about this.

So I pose it to you, faithful readers: What should we do, where should we go, what can’t we miss?

And also: AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH I’M SO EXCITED!!!!!

Advertisements

Birthday tomorrow, quarterlife crisis today.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I will be 25 years old.

Yay, happy birthday to me! I’ll be able to rent a car! And get cheaper car insurance! It’ll be a really exciting automotive year, no doubt about it.

Also, though… at 25, I will officially be (if I haven’t been already) in my “mid 20s.” I will have reached an age where it’s pretty generally accepted that I should have my $#!% together. And another thing… if you remember your elementary math skills, tomorrow my age will officially round up to 30.

I had to stop typing there for a second, because I needed a few moments to catch my breath. I stood up, paced a few laps around the room in my slipper socks, and sat back down. …And then I started freaking out some more, because DO 25-YEAR-OLDS WEAR SLIPPER SOCKS?!

I am 24 years and 364 days old, and I’m still in pajamas at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon.

Know what my parents’ generation was up to at age 25? Married. Paying a mortgage. Probably with a few mouths to feed by now.

And who’s to say it’s even generational? For that matter, if I were to survey my graduating class on Facebook, fully half of them would be married. Several with children. All with (seemingly) a defined sense of purpose.

And here I am, hours away from being a member of the Quarter Century Club, and I can’t even be bothered to put pants on if I’m not leaving the house.

There’s something about this age, something about it being TWENTY-FIVE, that has me a little shaken. It seems like just yesterday (actually, it seems like today), when 25 seemed so damned far away. 25-year-olds were just so much farther along on the maturity scale. A 25-year-old is a person who knows who they are, knows what they want out of life… or at the very least wears pants on Sunday afternoons.

And who am I? Don’t ask me, because I have no idea. It took me a solid seven months to even come up with a blog name, because the pressure of articulating my identity so definitively had me paralyzed with fear. I am not married, I don’t have kids, and god forbid I should ever be tied into a mortgage. I only very recently discovered what I want to do with my life, and have spent most of the last two years bouncing between cities.

Not to mention… the other day, I actually typed “um” in a text message. Because even when I’m given the opportunity to fully think through my responses via written word, I still find it necessary to communicate my indecisiveness.

Do you get what I’m saying here? It just concerns me that these are not traits that describe a 25-year-old adult.

Tomorrow, will I wake up with the unquenchable desire to sign a mortgage and sprout out little Susie Juniors? Seems unlikely.

Instead, I’ll probably wake up with the desire to jump out of a plane or gorge myself on Mexican food… or, more probable, just watch Spongebob in my pajamas.

Oh, 25. Come back later, would you?