What scares me most about growing up
Babies, Marriage and Couples Cranium
My name is Zoe Nightingale, and I was born into a world of shoulder pads and stirrup pants. I am a genuine product of the 80s. People keep calling me a “millennial,” but all I know is that I didn’t have a cell phone at 8 years old. My apple computer looked like Mars landing equipment and I grew up loving glow worms, Billy Idol and jewel-bellied Troll dolls. If that makes me part of the most useless generation of humans ever created, so be it.
I have always been different. I’ve always been the fly in my family’s ointment. While they love me unconditionally, they’ve never really understood what the deviled egg I was wearing, saying, or doing. My resistance to getting a “real job”. My failure to get a Masters. My insistence on spending my life traveling like dandelion fluff in the wind. My inability to save or plan for the future. While they have always supported me they have also relentlessly questioned my motives and insisted I have some sort of master plan. Whenever I would tell them about my newest business venture or travel plans, they rolled their eyes and quietly muttered old yiddish expressions under their breath.
Suffice it to say I’ve been chasing giggles, slaughtering dance floors, and acting like a wet gremlin at 1AM for the last 30 years. I’ve been Run, Lola Running from responsibility. Playing a global game of hide and go seek with pain. I have never liked pain. Instead of learning healthy ways to sit and hold space for it, I douse it in alcohol, smoke things to make it fuzzy, or stuff it down with different combinations of gluten and sugar (YUM!). But there comes a point where all the pain finally finds you. When all of the things you’ve been running from your entire life come to a head and force you to face your amorphous fear of change. It’s taken almost everything I have to quell the tiny beast that roars inside and behave like some semblance of an adult.
Now, I’m stuck, living in a limbo like oasis of my thirties. I know my “youth” is over, but I’m still going to need Paul Revere himself to gallop over with a paper that says “soon thy brunches shall come with highchairs” in order to believe it. The most practical, mother approved, and predictable next step would be to finally commit to a romantic life-long adult relationship. Yet as I watch those around me voluntarily march down the road most travelled my feelings towards marriage and procreation have not changed; I avoid them like midtown Manhattan during Christmas. I know that there are many wonderfully happy couples who have found ways to use marriage to grow, learn, and get that fancy juicer they’ve always wanted. I, however, would rather have sex with a chainsaw. To put it more kindly, “the institution” just simply isn’t my brew of matcha. Understand that I have had great love in my life, I just never understood why I had to put shackles around it.
I know I run the risk of actually becoming a discount bin version of Sarah Jessica Parker, wistfully waxing poetic about the wonders of being a single gal in New York City. Except I’m aware that she only made it look cool because she had $40,000 in stilettos and a sexy rent-controlled brownstone.
I’m pretty sure that won’t happen. I still live in Williamsburg with roommates, in a hamster cage with less closet space than John Malkovich’s head. Another thing that separates me from the pretend world of sassy single-hood is that instead of choosing which designer frock I want to wear, my closet is mostly full of clothes that I refer to lovingly as “the way we were” or “yeah right” for short. This problem is compounded by my Jewey Lewis and The News mentality of never throwing anything out that doesn’t have mice actively living inside it. Also, there’s my Ozymandias-like insistence that one day I’ll have a Bridget Jones moment, throw all my sins in a garbage bin and obsessively go to SoulCycle classes (whatever the hell that is) and finally fit into my club gear from ‘09. Sadly, I’ve come to the conclusion that unless I actually amputate a leg or ALL of my ribs magically disappear, Sarah Jessica Parker I will never be. So where does the last 10 years in New York leave me?
No savings, no investments, no property…no foundational anything. Is getting married the only way for me to actually grow up and create an infrastructure to support a meaningful life for my elder years? Is that the only way that people start paying their taxes on time and get credit cards with miles (my dream!)?
In classic short con, NYC thinking, I’ve spent my life building my community through collecting beautiful humans; cultivating what I thought would be life-long friendships with charismatic hooligans who I poured all of my love and energy into. But one by one they are vanishing like the Truffula Trees, leaving me, the sad little Lorax standing on the last stump wondering when everyone started paying mortgages instead of throwing 85 percent of their salary into a Hasidic black hole.
My best friend had a baby. She also made me a godmother?!! Hell hath frozen right over. What on earth I could possibly tell a child born during President Trump’s reign of terror? I can’t begin to imagine. What is the point of building a foundation when I feel like Chicken Little preaching to the wind that the world as we know it is ending. All I want to do is get drunk and dance to Abba records alone in my underwear, in the apartment I can’t afford.
But it’s time to face my baseless fears of receiving paperless post invites to things like “Couples Cranium Night!” Cue drinking organic Pinot Grigio with couples in matching sweaters, the men’s genitals reduced to a G.I Joe mound, the women’s brains atrophied to the size of Barbies. Everyone pretending that this is what fun feels like. Meanwhile, the cool young people of tomorrow snort blow off midget trapeze artist’s dicks in an underground Bed Stuy carnival. To be fair, my NYC friends who are married, and have had kids are usually the first in line to snort misc. powder off of any surface, but my fear isn’t logical, it’s emotional and feels very real.
I realize I’m fucked either way. For some bizarre reason I have a deep jew-y genetic need to make my mother happy and she keeps bugging me to suck it up, join the parade, and say yes to the dress. She literally says, “just do it for me!”. I realize that even now, there’s still a lot I don’t know, but the one thing I do know is this. If I do go down, I’m going down in a peacock-colored Mardi Gras dress designed by a drag queen. But I think at this point my mom will take what she can get. Stay tuned.