22 in 2020

“This will be a year you never forget.” 


I’d say “take a shot” everytime a professor, family member, or employer uttered those words, but that’s a one way ticket to alcohol poisoning (though maybe it will make us actually forget this turbulent year). 


I can’t say every moment of this year has been awful for me. Before the pandemic hit, I was in the best period of my life so far. I was a junior in college, living in my first home, managing straight As while staying out until 2 with no problem, and waking up for work at 8 the next morning. Somewhere in the timestream, the first week of March 2020 still exists. A girl in ripped fishnets sits on a couch, knowing she’ll have to finish her response on Joyce in the morning, still thinking she’ll spend her spring break in Ireland. 


Spoilers: I spent it back at my parent’s house eating ice cream, hiding under my Batman-print, twin-sized duvet, and  fearing COVID-19. Not the way many 21-year-olds imagine spending their notorious semester break.  


Now, it’s November. The United States is seeing COVID cases soar, with the New York Times reporting 235 thousand deaths nation-wide. The country is eagerly waiting for the results of the presidential election. No one’s gotten a full night’s sleep in days. Selfishly, I’m thinking about my 22nd birthday. 


Sure, there’s a little part of my brain throwing a pity party about not being able to celebrate with friends. Most of my brain is just anxious. 


As I obsessively refreshed my Twitter feed, looking for the election updates I knew wouldn’t be there, I saw the British indie-rock band, The Wombats, posted a tweet celebrating the 13th anniversary of A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation, a defining album of my eighth grade experience. This antidote seems random, but it wasn’t until I saw that tweet, I remembered the lyric “a small piece of advice, that took twenty-two years in the making” from the album’s second single ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division.’ 


I remember at age 14, I heard that lyric and physically recoiled at the mere thought of being 22. I thought 22 was old and boring. That at 22, I’d probably be a boring housewife with a corporate job and no hope or joy. Very rude of past-me. I apparently looked over the previous lyric, where the speaker refers to “this little boy's brain.” Because at nearly 22, I still feel like a little girl, who is barely employed and far from being anyone’s housewife. 


22 is scary because I’ve known what I will “do next” my whole life. After kindergarten, you go to first grade, after middle school you go to high school, after high school you go to college. Now, I don’t know what I’m going to do. 


My parents are graying, my grandparents are slowly down. The baby sister that I helped raise is in college now. One day my body will ache when I move and I’ll lose the ability to run on four hours of sleep. I’m graduating into a recession with an English degree. That’s scary. 


But for now, I’m young and that’s scary too. Maybe one day I’ll be old, and I’ll forget this chaotic year...but probably not.