At 25, I woke up early. At 6:30 AM, when I was technically still 24, with only a few precious minutes before entering the 25th anniversary of my time here on earth. Sun squirmed its way between a gap in the window and the Batman blanket I've been using as a heavy duty curtain, touching my face with the illusion of a warm day. For a moment I was still, nestled in bed and squinting at a mix of sky and branches and houses.
At 25, I decided to treat myself to a bagel for breakfast. Apparently, food is just as important to me as when I was 24, or 16, or 5. Indeed, the desire and appreciation for food runs much of my daily life. At 25, there is rarely a moment when I don't have a niggling yen for one (or both) of two things: guacamole, with the rich avocado punctuated with sharp garlic and juicy ripe tomatoes; or the Lucknow Special from Pronti Bistro. Chunks of lamb with mushroom and feta, slathered in tamarind and mint yogurt sauce, gently couched in warm flatbread. It's the type of meal that makes the entire world OK, opening windows of peace and harmony and happiness (only to prompt feelings of crushing loss when it is eaten and gone).
At 25, I carefully selected the first song of my new year. I was torn between old favorites, songs that dominated this past year, or something peppy and delightful. I ended up with "The Wind" by Cat Stevens. A perfect choice.
At 25, I'm coming out of a season of penetrating sadness. But the weather is slowly warming, and is nursing my heart along with it. One thing people don't tell you when you finally chase your dreams is that the chasing action does not instantaneously eradicate all the fears and insecurities that kept you from the dream in the first place. Oh, it can assuage them for a bit. For a time, your confidence will be boosted by the pure adrenaline rush of finally doing it. And then the novelty wears off and you are left with a dream that has become mundane reality, but with an added pressure layer of hopes and expectations crusting the top of it. And wrestling with a dream made actual can leave you staring at the void, feet dangling off the edge of the cliff as you grasp for a trail. For somewhere safe and sure to place your footfalls. And sometimes, you'll have to off-road it for a while, forging your own path until a trail is made. And it's difficult. But somehow it can be done. Or so I repeat to myself in the malaise-worthy mornings and headache-inducing nights.
At 25, I'm hopeful. Hopeful that the best is still ahead. That there's a bright, comfortable future in front of me, full of books and armchairs and sunlight. The meals will be catered and the television will always be set to the best channels (what CBS? No such thing). There will be rooms and people and a home full of light. There will be deeply satisfying work, and even more deeply satisfying love. This is the richness I see for myself, and as for 25? It's just the beginning.
*That phrase always makes me think of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Specifically, the scene before this song. I tried to find the actual point where Mr. Twimble discusses his 25-year status in the company, but alas it is not to be. Yes, we have a grand overarching technological network that spies on us and has billions of cat videos, but it can't be bothered to include a thirty second clip of a Pulitzer prize-winning production. This is the world we live in.