Elizabeth wrote a post involving the milestones of life, in particular the milestone of age 25. Karen Russell wrote and published a book at the age of 25 (and I myself know a handful of writers who had novels out by this age, and whose writing careers were accelerating by 25). TWENTY-FIVE. What was I doing at that age?
I know that I was a jagged person at that age–and I’m not sure what kind of wisdom I had to impart to the world. Yes, I wrote a short story at age 25 (well, I started writing it when I was 21 and didn’t finish until I was 29) that eventually got published in ZYZZYVA…but a novel?
So–what was I doing at age 25? What were you doing at age 25? Elizabeth took this query as a writing prompt and ran with it. I was intrigued by the snapshot she took of her life…and reading her answers made my fingers itchy to participate.
Ahem, and so I will.
When I was twenty-five, I started a blog. That was nearly ten years ago, and I still have that blog up, though I can’t point you to it because then I’ll blow my cover of anonymity (not that I haven’t already, with all these details about my life that an ambitious and curious person could eventually piece together). I don’t specifically know why I started blogging, but I do know that I wanted to write, somehow, and that blogging could set me on my way.
In that sense, blogging has been very valuable in my life, despite its more “lowbrow” status as a writing genre. I don’t care. It got me started as a writer, and has kept me going through the darkest times, including the initial weeks following my stroke, when I couldn’t pen a cohesive storyline to save my life.
When I was twenty-five, I got the first of my beloved two doggies. I had wanted a dog in my life, and I took the leap and got him, even though I wasn’t sure where I would end up living, or what I’d be doing in years ahead. I just wanted a dog, and I got him. He was a rescue–and the minute I saw him, I fell in love with him. He crawled over to me, his tail tucked between his legs and I thought, “Oh crap–this one’s mine!” I didn’t even look at the other dogs the rescue organization showed me afterwards.
He was incredibly bouncy, and his energy never seemed to sag. I would take him on 4 mile hikes uphill and through leaves that he had to hop through (he is a very short creature), and that still never got him down. Now, he sleeps on the couch most of the day. He is still awfully cute.
When I was twenty-five…I used to commute a hundred miles round trip to and from work. I didn’t mind it that much. I got a lot of thinking time in the car. Like my dog, I had a lot more energy back then. There is no way I’d do a hundred mile roundtrip commute anymore.
When I was twenty-five…I was emotionally jagged. I wore my heart on my sleeve, and I think I scared a lot of people away. Now I don’t wear it on my sleeve, and I think I scare the other part of the populace away.
When I was twenty-five…I was in the same romantic relationship I’m in today. Except now I call him my husband.
When I was twenty-five…one of my closest friends had a stroke…at the age of 28. Her right arm got paralyzed, she dropped the pen, she couldn’t talk, and had a horrible headache. What are the chances, I remembered asking myself.
When I was twenty-five, I was not very sure of myself at all.
When I was twenty-five, I traveled to Korea and to Paris. I went to Korea with my mother, a mother-daughter trip that I still cherish. We travelled around the country and ate sashimi straight out of the water, and drove through the mountains and walked the streets of Seoul. While there, I also got eyelid cosmetic surgery. It was an impulse decision–I thought I would emerge looking entirely different, but I didn’t. I walked around for weeks afterwards and although there were a few people who noted the difference, there were many more who said they wouldn’t have noticed. Still, I can wear eyeshadow now.
I liked having it done. I know it’s totally not PC to say I like it, but I do. I also know it’s bad form to reveal that I’ve had eyelid surgery (most people keep it hush hush and say they’re “natural”), but I don’t care. I wasn’t born with the folds in my eyelids.
When I was twenty-five, I bought my first house. My dog and I moved in, and he immmediately spent days sitting along the windowsill, staring out at the street. It was a small cottage in a cute town north of where I live now. I was incredibly proud of my home. I’m still proud of it. Weird. I just sold it this year, after my tenant moved out.
When I was twenty-five…I think the pieces in my life were starting to fall in place, even though I didn’t know it at the time. So much of what I found then, became the foundations of my life now. I know I was moving myself forward towards an uncertain goal, and it drove me nuts to not know where I was headed, but I took reassurance in some semblance of progression.
I was trying to define what it was that I wanted. I was trying to dredge up my dreams and overcome my fears. I’m in awe that the choices I made at twenty-five are choices I happily live with now, the choices I’m married (in one case, literally) to. It is incredible see how much of “living” is entirely intuitive.
I think there are lots of people who are trying to find what they want, overcome their fears, and set up a life course, at all ages. I’m lucky that I did it at twenty-five, early enough to give me a start.
Update…the following have also done wonderful renditions of “When I was 25…”