To Be Twenty Something 

We lounged on my living room floor at midnight, a quilt spread out on the plush pieces of carpet that outlined the space where the couch used to sit. It was the three of us- one, two, sitting cross legged and me, resting on my elbows, feet swinging circles in the air. In another life- a timeline where different choices were made, or a parallel universe, perhaps, I imagined this could have been our every night. I could have stayed right here, in this same house in the same city I grew up in. Maybe I would have hung new pictures and painted over the memories that clung to the walls. Maybe I would have learned to live amidst the noise rather than to shake my past. I’d pick up my phone every morning and read a text from my oldest best friend.

I don’t carry the weight of my friend’s burdens on my shoulders, but I feel it just the same. On that December night I knew we were experiencing a different life- one where I stayed home and she still believed in magic. But thinking about us, counting the popcorn on the ceiling and watching Friends on the living room floor, I realized that a moment only lasts forever in memory.

I used to think about the different occasions or circumstances that could bring me back to Mobile. But more often than not, I realize this is home now. I accept it. I embrace it. Just like Auburn was my safe place  when I needed it, Nashville welcomes me the same way. I’ve made friends that I can’t imagine my life without. I have people that call me family, and houses to call me home.

Life is rarely what we expect it to be, but in moving away, I know that I’m living the life I chose. And in making that decision, and every one that followed, I ceased to be a victim of circumstance. Whatever comes my way- be it loss or failure or heartbreak or just wanting to quit, I am content. I am content because I could have stayed home and glided my way through life, never fully understanding the longing nestled deep in my heart. I could have chosen an obvious path and my future could have been easily charted. But I wasn’t content to allow my life to simply happen.  

Sitting on that patterned quilt, the reds and blues and greens blending into our glasses and the night, I imagined that it was another universe, another time. I imagined this was my life. But as I surveyed the room and the empty spaces where my family and furniture should have been, I knew my world could never be one city block wide. I couldn’t erase the friends that shaped me and my life in Auburn, and I won’t take for granted the ones in Nashville that love me now.

Thinking this, I glanced over at my friend, who laughed at Chandler Bing, then pulling at the string that hung from her denim shorts, met my eyes emerging from thought.

“This is what it means to be twenty something,” I said.

Because she didn’t understand why I left just as much as I didn’t understand why she couldn’t go. But we shared that moment-that infinite moment where we existed on the same plane and as long as we never left, the one, two, three of us would keep this bit of effortless happy laughing on a quilt  in my living room forever and to ourselves.

“This is what it means to be twenty something,” I said.

But what I meant was time marches on. Everything changes. We were never meant to stay the same.


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