For those of you who don’t know me well, let me just tell you that I turned 26 last week. It’s pretty cool. So. 26. Let’s talk.
I have less hair. I absolutely have less hair. It’s cool. I’m not saying this so people will comfort me and tell me my hair isn’t thinning. It’s totally thinning. It’s not stress. I literally have one thing on my to-do list today: a show. It’s not because I wear baseball caps every now and then. I know I could try Rogaine. I tried that Aveda Invati stuff that is supposed to help with thinning hair, but all that did was make my head smell AMAZING. But I’m not really looking for sympathy or compliments or reassurances. I’m simply trying to accept the deterioration of one of my favorite parts of my body: my hair. I’ve always joked that I rely on my beauty to get my way, and now that I’m losing something that I believe has attributed to my charm I’m feeling a bit…fucked. I feel like puberty ended two seconds ago and now I’m losing my hair? I mean, I could always pull a Trump by shaving off all my leg hair and piling it on top of my head. I mean, I would then have a sizable afro. Thoughts? Clearly, I’m trying to put a positive spin on something that is a bit devastating. I mean, I haven’t hooked a man yet, and now I’ve gotta do it with less hair?? How am I supposed to bat my eyelashes flirtatiously behind a curtain of bangs? Is it too much to get bangs-extensions? But, James, let’s be positive. Are you losing hair? Yes. BUT. Are you increasing the playing space for your insane face-making? Um. YES.
26 has also taught me that I usually hate Timehop. If you don’t know what Timehop is because it’s not a compatible app on your flip-phone, Timehop is a smartphone app that connects to all your social media and reminds you what happened in your life on this day in past years. It’s cool sometimes when it shows you how happy you were when money was just paper that tasted funny. It’s also cool when it reminds you of how weird your friends have always been. But Timehop is literally the coolest when it shows you how funny your grandma used to be or when it shows you a really cute sentimental post from 5 years ago from an ex-boyfriend that you thought you were totally over and now you’re lying in bed creeping on their Facebook feeling significantly uglier and creepier by the minute. And now you’re lying facedown in your pillow failing to smother yourself but succeeding in drowning in a combination of your own sweat and drool. I can’t help but feel like I’m accumulating more and more painful memories as I get older. I’m sure the same could be said for the accumulation of awesome memories but those don’t permeate my consciousness as frequently. Well, these revelations only increase the amount of time that I spend facedown in my pillow hoping that my bed will swallow me up. I wish there were some sort of equation for how long things will hurt. Someone once said that in order for you to get over your ex-boyfriend, it will take half of the amount of time that you were dating. So if it was a year-long relationship it would take you 6 months to get over that person. Frankly, I think that equation is bullshit. Because honestly, I dated someone for more than a year and I don’t miss them at all; nothing inside me yearns for them in the least. But someone that I’m totally over that I dated a million years ago that my Timehop just showed me a cute moment we had and I feel like I can’t breathe. I just wanna lift up my mattress and lie under it until I become Flat Stanley. What’s going on, James? I thought we were cool. I thought we could exist in the same world with this person and not fall apart? And then Timehop resurfaces a bitch from Christmas Past and you go and creep all over their Facebook and then you feel worthless? What’s that??
And then the whirlwind explodes for me. I look at my friends who are married. I see people my age who own property. I see other 26-year olds who are financially stable. They’re creating families while I’m jumping up and down at the NYC Pride Parade in order to collect handfuls of free condoms that I’ll never use. (I actually went home with my bags of condoms and put them into a flower vase and put them on a table in the living room.) We all lost our health insurance at the same time, but now they pay for their own while my plan is to start wearing a helmet everywhere I go. They’re adding money to their retirement funds while I’m crying in the aisles at the grocery store when the peanut butter has gone on sale for $1.50. They’re posting pictures on social media of them doing cute stuff with their significant others while I’m still contemplating, ‘How much buttcrack can I expose and still be considered, like, sexy?’
Honestly, I rarely feel 26. I look at my receding hairline and I feel like I’m in my thirties. I look at the success of some of my friends not working in theater and I feel like a kid. Then I look over at the Stitch doll I sleep with, only confirming my adolescence. When people go out drinking and I stay home cooking mango curry with dry-fried tofu I feel… old. The only time I feel my age, 26, is when I look at my massive amount of student loan debt and think to myself, “Well, that looks right!”
But I am absolutely 26. My birthdays don’t feel discernibly different anymore, but with the passing years I do notice an increased awareness of loss. Loss of two grandparents, loss of hair, loss of feeling in my left shoulder where I had surgery on my collarbone, loss of carelessness, loss in my steadfast belief that everything happens for a reason. But I do feel like I’ve gained knowledge; I feel like I finally understand why some people get sad around their birthdays. Every year is a reminder of mortality. Every year where when we’re expected to celebrate the day we were born, some of us can’t help but be reminded that someday we’ll die. And then we’re reminded of all the people we’ve lost along the way, all the people we wish we could still call on the phone, whether they’re no longer alive or no longer in our lives. And while I miss my personal collection of lost loves, I don’t want to be sad every birthday. I prefer to take the life I have left ahead of me and using it to commit atrocious acts of fuckery.