Short Story: Eat, Prey, Suck by Nina Montero
Turning twenty is waking up knowing that you’re going to watch ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ someday.
It’s also having a sudden and insatiable interest in citrus scented candles and an IKEA level comprehension of Feng Shui.
This may eventuate into even more bizarre patterns of behaviour and urges; such as visions of starting up your own artisan cheese company in the South of France.
You may even find yourself reading the boring articles that you get notifications for on your phone because of an unexplainable whim instructing you that you have some kind of moral duty to half-inform yourself on the world’s issues.
Twenty is waking up every morning to another feat in Donald Trump’s master plan to destroy the earth and another celebrity death. Twenty is deleting the news app from your phone and going back to sleep.
The worst part of turning twenty is the realisation that the thought of weddings no longer makes you want to vomit into the nearest half empty mug—although babies still make you nauseous.
It’s standing on the porch and watching the rain and not being able to articulate anything else.
It’s having half as many people post on your Facebook timeline for your birthday, and being more concerned with the fact that you’re not really concerned that that no one gives a shit about your birthday anymore than actually being concerned that no one gives a shit about your birthday anymore.
It’s being okay with the idea of having a nice lunch with close friends instead of a party on your special day.
It’s starting a Pinterest board for jewellery that no one will ever see and being content with the implications behind that, and it’s worrying about whether you’ll get through the piles of books on your reading list.
It’s carrying a water bottle with you at all times, and longing for extra spending money to buy your friends nice gifts.
It’s spending ten dollars on wine instead of eight dollars.
It’s keeping an eye on plane ticket prices and the real estate market, even though both of your goals pertaining to those two subject matters are unrealistic.
It’s looking up bedding and décor on the Urban Outfitters website and keeping the tabs open just in case the money comes in.
It’s finally closing the tab for an article your mum sent you a month ago that you never got around to reading.
It’s being fine with receiving a Meyer voucher card for Christmas.
For some, it’s posting fewer political rants on Facebook because of an unexplainable new found awareness in regards to the fact that arguing with a small group of your peers isn’t going to make a difference—It’s tweeting about it instead.
It’s catching up with QandA debates through three minute segments on social media and attending less political protests because you don’t have the time—but feeling bad about it.
It’s feeling ashamed of your generation for not voting in the general election, but then receiving a fine for not voting in the council election four months later.
It’s not being able to make new friends—and sadly—not caring. Well that is until the weekend comes and you’re forced to endure an obnoxious display of everyone getting lit without you on Snapchat.
It’s taking a yoga class without your mum paying for it, but never going again.
It’s going to the gym for the first two weeks of the new year, and acting like you’re too cynical to make resolutions, but having a list of goals in the notes app on your phone.
At times, it’s thinking that getting a new haircut will solve all your problems and help you get your life together.
It’s going on V-line day trips to distract yourself from the fact that you still don’t have your license and drinking chai tea as though it changes the fact that you ordered Uber Eats three nights in a row.
It’s watching the weather reports with genuine enthusiasm and catching yourself exclaiming things that your mum would say like: “There are always options,” to High School graduates concerned about their ATAR results.
You might even find yourself ordering hot chocolate, or lemonade—or, you know, stuff that actually tastes good (like drinks that aren’t beer)—because you’re not as worried about looking cool anymore.
It’s using the phrase: “let’s book in a time” when arranging a coffee date with an acquaintance.
It’s throwing away a bunch of clothes to try that thirty item wardrobe trend for the sake of minimalism and spiritual cleansing (or whatever) and immediately purchasing a bunch of clothes you’ll never wear again from Savers the following fortnight.
You’ll also find yourself signalling to the waiter for water in any given situation because it seems like the right thing to do—and, I don’t know? Social conditioning.
And as I’ve now found, it’s reading reviews instead of watching the trailers before you see films.
It can even be embracing the reality of dogs instead of kids and renting instead of owning a home.
Twenty is the age that, unexpectedly, a small apartment with some plants and books and a cat seems like a dream. Like how you can tell something is a daydream in a movie because of the saturation of squint inducing, warm white light.
Twenty is accepting that you’ll be alone forever—like a deranged cat lady—and not even minding after yet another night of no matches on Tinder. Twenty is then deleting said app in order to signal said lifestyle changes; closing your eyes for a moment; feeling sad and alone; opening your eyes; downloading the app once more; refreshing…no new matches. Dating apps are kind of like retail therapy; like spontaneous shopping at night, except for the fact that your Amazon wish list can’t reject you—unless, of course, you have insufficient funds. You think you might have insufficient funds. Can a person have insufficient funds IRL? You’ve always kind of identified with the ‘declined’ message that appears on the card machine after an innocent shopper has scanned three bags worth of groceries—another fascinating and nihilistic humiliation ritual.
Twenty is staying at home and watching British comedy instead of going to the party.
Twenty is every decision, moment, night feeling like a vital thread in an ongoing narrative or movie. Every empty and useless minute, hour, day, and week is experiencing the weight of the directors ashamed eye as he tosses his omniscient, metaphorical, twenty-foot beret. But at least your twenties have a great soundtrack.
Twenty is feeling like you’re letting down Virginia Woolf, Anne Sexton and Charlotte Bronte every time you decide to watch the Kardashians instead of working on your non-existent, genre transcending debut novel. Twenty is telling them to fuck off…Twenty is then the delusions of grandeur creeping back to you hours later.
Twenty is realising that you never had a High School romance, or ran away from home, or got caught trespassing at night. Twenty is assuming this means that your twenties are going to have to be the seminal years of your life instead of your teens. It’s also deciding that you better get started now if the next decade is going to define your life like in the movies. Twenty is lifting up the blanket; sitting up; contemplating this, and falling back into bed.
Twenty is envisioning the coming decades as a series of Wikipedia entries.
Twenty is ascertaining that everyone cool was already famous at this age, and that no one cares if you’re mildly good at something past the age of eighteen. This insight forces you to accept that you’re either going to have to become exceptional at something, or that it’s too late for you. Twenty is acknowledging that it’s too late for you and that you’ll never be Lorde. Twenty is throwing out all the black clothes in your wardrobe to symbolise this.
Twenty is not knowing whether you can take sitting through ‘Introduction to Film’ another year, deciding to take Literature instead, and regretting the decision shortly after scanning the weighty list of unpronounceable Russian texts.
Last night, twenty was giggling while playing crack the egg on the trampoline with friends and then having to take an Uber home.
Twenty is trying to work up the courage to say something interesting to the Uber driver. But then it’s asking, “busy night?” instead, and pretending to text someone the rest of the ride home.
Spending your lunch break on campus watching a Livestream of the Oscars and tearing up after Mahershala Ali’s speech is also how twenty feels.
Twenty is deciding that this essay is terrible and wondering whether it was worth dropping out of your degree to pursue Creative Writing.
Nina is a writer currently studying Creative Writing at RMIT. You can find more of her work here