This bathroom was spotless only moments ago: My boyfriend’s model sailboat carefully polished, every water stain on my mirror gone, and my counter empty. But now it’s a different scene: The countertop has a quarter-inch of hairspray covering it, hair wax begins to dry around the drain in the sink, and the place is littered with a hairbrush, a flat iron, and a halfempty, uncapped bottle of cologne. My closet will soon be in a similar state, consisting of a colossal pile of outfits that I’ll try on and reject. What a mess! How quickly does getting ready for a night out reverse the hard work I put into cleaning in the first place. And what fun it will be to clean it again tomorrow. Hungover.
The funny thing about it, after all this trouble—after spending hundreds on a new outfit, agonizing over whether or not to even wear it, spending even more on booze for a pre-party, painstakingly going through every contact in my phone to make sure all the right people were invited—I look at myself in the mirror and realize: I don’t even want to go out.
When we were younger, we co-signed a metaphorical pledge with ourselves: We would spend every night out on the town, taking it by storm, whisking it away to wherever we wanted it to go.
We ignored what we did to our bodies, we paid no mind to how ridiculous we sounded to our mature friends, and we heeded not the advice of our elders. We soaked ourselves in cologne, spent hours doing our hair, and spent money we didn’t have on clothes. We did so with integrity and conviction. THIS is who we are, we thought.
By JUSTIN JONES
Of course, when we got a little older— when our bodies took more time to recover, when we found “big boy” jobs and started caring about our friends more than ourselves—we settled down a bit. We laughed at our former crazy ways, professed a “new me”—a cliché to convey our newfound maturity—and then took it upon ourselves to find a new path, one that led toward settling down with the Love of our Life (he’d come one day), and the family we’d share.
My “new me” was born several years ago. I was finishing my bachelor’s degree, I had found the love of my life, and before long I’d be forever in his arms. “Going out” wouldn’t do anymore.
Inevitably, I occasionally relapsed into that former behavior, but not like it was before—the “old me” was a strange, amusing caricature of the new. Or at least that’s what I thought.
Now here I am, staring at the mess I’ve made in my bathroom. Twenty-six years old. I’m dating the man of my dreams. I have a wonderful job. I host dinner parties. I’m a real adult! Right?
Wrong. There’s still that teenage-era mess in my bathroom and in my closet. Who did this? Was there ever actually a “new me?” I reflect the next day while I’m folding the clothes in my closet, and I affirm my suspicions: There never was a “new me,” after all. I just matured enough to appreciate what my teenage self had missed out on, the people who make my life important.
I guess we never really grow up; we just get better at pretending.