Shit. I’m almost 30.
It’s a popular age to gutcheck our expectations against our realities. 30 might represent different things to different people, but it generally marks the entryway into middle-age as we close out the eventful drownage of mistakes, booze, and uninhibited fun that is our 20s.
Am I doing what I set out to do when I graduated college?
Hell fucking no. I had delusions of grandeur. I remember telling my roommate Brian that I wanted write a version of Ulysses that was based around San Jose. Now, I can barely finish a chapter or a short story without throwing it into the digital recycle bin. I’m currently on the fast-track to become another marketing monkey who uses metrics to quantify why blog posts matter. I’m not even close to writing anything that resembles the next great American novel I strove to write in my college years.
But being a monkey pays the bills, and I realized that my passion for words doesn’t outweigh my passion for living independently and paying bills on time. It’s still a passion, which is why I update this blog sporadically, or poke dusty manuscripts with the brand new idea stick from time to time. My love of writing is deep, slow, passionate, sensual…wait, what? Anyways, I hate the idea of living with my parents more than I love to write. So that’s that.
Am I where I wanted to be after I graduated college?
Well, I expected to move to Seoul to teach English after college, since I graduated in ’09 and the job market was swirling in the shitter at that time. That fell through because there wasn’t much demand for Asian-American Males in those schools. It was a little insulting, knowing that my ethnic motherland was acting so much like a white girl on Tinder.
Then when I was around 22 or 23, I was steeling myself to move to Portland at a moment’s notice. Not much to say about that, except I was being a supremely naive idiot. Thankfully, life stepped to slap my head from the clouds back down to San Jose.
Then around 24 or 25, I fell in love with New York and tried desperately to find an excuse to live a torturous spartan life within its high rises. I wanted to eat chicken and rice, teach English in the hood, find a bohemian girl who reads more than I do. I wanted to live that varnished romance that’s sold wholesale over TV and movies, that New York was the mecca of all culture. To sleep in its tenements was to be blessed by the most exciting and interesting lives. But no, the school thought I wouldn’t made a good teacher. And in retrospect, I wouldn’t have. I probably would’ve hit a rowdy student out of frustration, and then gotten shot by his angry older brother or father.
Now, I’m in San Francisco. I didn’t expect to be here when I got my shiny new diploma, but I’m here now. And here is what I appreciate, because on varying levels of consciousness, I valued being home over being somewhere else.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to go find myself in Europe like white people do. But I’m like that Atmosphere song, the one that us emo-thug kids played in 2004 or 2005. No matter where I am, no matter what I do, I’m always coming back home to you. The Bay is an inextricable part of who I am, and that part will always nourish and strengthen me whenever I can feel its breeze. Of course, I don’t imagine I’ll live here for the rest of my life. Maybe I’ll meander back to Los Angeles, or uproot and move to Chicago, or finally grasp the brass ring of Manhattan. But I do know that wherever I go, wherever I end up, I’m coming back to settle down in the Bay. I wouldn’t want to shortchange my children by living somewhere else, because to me, this place is the best place on Earth.
Am I the person that I strove to be after I graduated college?
I don’t know. I like to think I’ve grown more confident. I like to think that I’m a good person who wants to be compassionate and funny. But I also know that I’ve failed to be those things in regrettable episodes. I’ve blown up at people who didn’t deserve it. I’ve rejected people in colder ways than I should have. For every moment that I know I’ve upheld my own standards, I can name another episode of complete selfishness that flattens them. I like to think I’m a good person, but I’m sure you can gather a big portfolio of evidence that proves me wrong. I can be narcissistic*, I can be wrathful, I can be prideful, envious, greedy, lustful, and I can most definitely be fucking lazy.
*Evidence: this blog post.
But I suppose as I cross this event horizon of manhood, when hangovers become harder, clubs become unwelcome, and youth becomes more annoying, it’s enough to be self-aware. To know limitations. To work on them. To improve. Treat every day like you’re getting a new dealer at the table. The cards might fall in your favor, or they might not. The point is to improve how we react to them, how we’re molded by them.
Sometimes, I feel like adulthood is defined by the moments we continuously look for. We search for these moments assuming that the adults before us experienced them, learned from them, galvanized their own adulthood through them. But it’s only by experiencing my own life that I realize, most of these moments never existed for anyone. There are no benchmarks or certificates to collect in order to finalize our adulthood. We wander into it like infants walking like drunks. We grab our own personal lessons and allow them to harden us into the stubborn adults that eventually vote Republican.
30, 30 is just a number. A number like any other. It can be a benchmark, or it can be another excuse to drink and be merry with friends.
At least, that’s what I keep telling myself as I dreadfully get closer to this black hole when my back disintegrates, my memory disappears, I start sleeping at 9 PM, and I hate everything and anything that represents the wasteful youth I just lost.
Fuck man. I’m almost 30.