Death. I once flirted with it. It’s not beautiful not in the least bit. You don’t want to take it home with you at the end of the night. Not that you can anyway. But, if it likes you, it will take you home. Forever. And you’ll be a prisoner to it. And you will never leave. So when you meet you just hope by God it doesn’t like you. You hope it gives you a side eye and spits and goes on its way.
I don’t remember how old I was. It’s a bit sketchy. I was young. But I remember the words I told my mum. Right before I drifted into the unfamiliar world of the unconscious. And I remember her face. And how worry and depression were not a good look for her. She wore them like a bad weave. And they aged her young face. Wrinkles had wrinkles. Her smile was gone. Instead, in it’s place, a grimace. If you’ve met me in essence you’ve met my mum. I got two things from her. The eyes and her smile. It’s a package deal. One cannot simply exist without the other. I also got her laugh and wit. And stubborn resolve.
“Mum, I don’t want to die.”
I don’t remember hearing her reply. What would she even say? My fever was running high. A reassuring nurse calmly told me or her that everything was fine. Or that it would be. Maybe she was just telling herself. I only remember her uniform and her voice; as it trailed off. Then, darkness.
I want to tell you that there was a bright light. That on the other side there was someone I knew. Someone familiar. Guiding me. Or talking to me. Asking me all the nice questions we see on the movies. Or that I could hear the voices of people talking to me urging me to wake up. But I can’t. Because I don’t remember anything like that. It was just darkness. A weirdly calm darkness. One you’re not really afraid of. It was like nothing. You can’t be afraid of nothing. You don’t even know if it exists. It was a very weird place to be. I want to tell you that you have a choice. To wake up or not. But I don’t think you do. I just woke up.
The first thing I saw was my mum. And she smiled. And I tried to smile but I couldn’t. But I smiled with my eyes. Like I’ve seen her do many times. Then I drifted again. But this time it was sleep. I could feel it. I knew I’d wake up again. The fever had gone down. I could taste my mouth. I know it’s weird. Tasting my mouth. But I could. It tasted copperish. Is that a good thing? I don’t know. I just know I could taste it. A few hours later I was good to go. So we went home. Right after she bought be a present. A mug. Did I mention that it was my birthday or a day or two after? I still have the cup. A reminder perhaps.
For that reason, I’m always alone for my birthday. Most people don’t even know when it is and that helps matters. I might party a day before. Or a day after. But on the actual day; that darkness. That calm. It became a part of me. So I embrace it and just be.
I don’t know how true the alchemist is. Good book by the way. It talks about how if you want something bad enough the universe aligns itself to give it to you. Actually, the word the book uses is conspire. Conspires, not align. Well, I want a cold beer and ten million dollars. But I guess I don’t really want it that bad enough. Or the universe is taking forever to align itself. Or maybe the universe is a woman; and the alignment involves parking. Maybe parallel. And a lot of reversing. So I need not say more. It is going to take its time. Especially when the rear view becomes a makeup mirror. So I will just sit tight and wait. You know women. This could take a while hehe. Or maybe it was just one big conspiracy.
Exactly twelve days ago I turned 24. A weird age to be. An even weird time to be it. You’re still young enough to not worry about life. But old enough to start worrying about life. At twenty three you can flirt with being clueless. No one cares. At twenty two no one even takes you seriously. At twenty four it’s like a paradigm shift. Everything needs to come into focus. Your career. Your love life. Family. That Instagram photo you want to take. Nothing can be blurry. And it’s scary.
“How does it feel? Being older?” My mum asked.
She always asks that. Every time. Like clock work. Right after she sends me a message; she calls. And I want to tell her I don’t know how it feels. It’s my first time being 24. I want to tell her that I will first try it out like a new pair of shoes. Or car. Do a test drive and tell her how it feels. Maybe throw in an it’s a little bit tight on the waist. Or it drifts a bit to the left when you make a hard turn. Something. An answer. But then again she might not find it funny. She might end up telling me I’m getting too old for such jokes. And I might end up hating twenty four. The age. Not the series. Dammit I love Jack Bauer. Because if you can’t joke at any age that’s a really bad age to be.
At twenty four everyone around you either has their shit together or they are the shit. Lasses are getting engaged. Buds are getting promotions at work. The guys are buying cars. Even Kevin has a godamn credit card. Swears his life on it. Flashes it around any given chance. Brandishes it like a gun. You’d think it could get him out of anything. Like inside that chip and pin is a hostage negotiator, marriage counselor, wise bartender and the supreme Court judges. It’s his answer to everything.
“Let’s go out tonight.” He’ll say
“I can’t man I have a headache.” I’ll reply. Then realize how a headache is an excuse ladies give when they don’t want to give up the cookie.
“You don’t worry I have a credit card.”
And the rest of the night you’ll wonder how a credit card and your headache come even closely related.
The pressure at twenty four to be something is real. You’re one year shy off twenty five. Which is really just an year shy off twenty six. And at twenty six everyone knows you’re just two months away from thirty. And at thirty who are you kidding you’re two hours away from forty. And what did they say about forty? It’s when life starts? Well it starts and the next thing you know you’re sixty two. And you wish you were twenty four again. And you want it bad. And the universe starts to conspire. And align. But dammit you never got your ten million dollars. It’s going to take a while and so you don’t even bother.
At twenty four you just can’t be dating. It has to be meaningful. Who are you seeing? Why them? Have you met her mother? Her dad? How much dowry do they want? They take cash or cows? Or maybe Kevin’s credit card?
Your career has to be on the fast track. You can’t just be winging it. Or ‘Niko tu’. You have to throw a title around. And some money too. You have to have a plan. A five year plan. Ten year plan. Twenty year plan. Weekend plan. Christmas plan. Office floor plan. All kinds of plans. A through to Y. You have to become cultured. Do away with the three am club dancing and trade it in for the more mature jazz. Delete the two chainz and adopt the Erykah. Delete the Kristoff and adopt the Atemi. There’s an image at twenty four that you should start portraying.
I’ve only been twenty four for twelve days. So what do I know?