By Age 35.

Sirin, a mythical creature as fast and hard to catch as human happiness. Source: Иван Билибин-Алконост:

By age 35 you should have saved twice your yearly salary for retirement, or so they say.

By age 35 you probably should have saved harder, should have bought an investment property, should have bought insurance, should have found a proper realtor, got a better deal.

By age 35 you should have made a nest egg, should have hammered in a picket fence, should have gotten married, should have been made a permanent employee, should have gained tenure, should have written a will, should have organised a family burial plot.

By age 35 you should have learnt to wake up early and not just stay up late, learnt to eat less sugar and flour, learnt some goddamn self-control, by 35 you should have learnt to quit masturbating on white sheets with Dorito-stained fingers.

By age 35 your should have figured out the buttons on the washer and dryer and paid off all your student loans. By 35 you should have discovered a skin care routine, should have developed a moisturising routine, should have found an accountant, a financial adviser, a life-coach, a pilates instructor, a psychologist, a proctologist and by age 35 you should’ve figured out how to pay for it all.

By age 35 you should’ve gotten over your childhood traumas, they tell you that you should’ve let it go, they say you should’ve moved on, you should’ve been the bigger person, you should’ve found a way to stop sobbing into your pillow by now, you should’ve gone back to your high school reunion and clinked glasses with the kids — all grown up now — the shits who told you to kill yourself when you were twelve, you shouldn’t have let it get to you, you really shouldn’t. You should’ve burnt the fuckers’ Brighton boathouses to the ground rather than just smiling and wishing syphilis upon their children.

By age 35 you should have taken up a hobby, started lifting weights, joined a club, become a volunteer, interned more, made something of yourself. By 35 you should’ve found a multi-million dollar house with 3 bedrooms and a backyard and paid it off on a casual wage, because by age 35 you should’ve found a way to do better for yourself, what with all you’ve been given, really.

By age 35 you shouldn’t have squandered a fortune, and you should’ve figured out already you can’t afford avocado, fabric softener or diamonds.

By age 35 you should’ve given up on your dreams, buried them under the black mould in the corner of the bathroom behind the dirty clothes that you never have time to wash, because by the age of 35 you shouldn’t be working three-piece-of-shit gig jobs 20 hours a day just to pay the bills and by age 35 why can’t you find a political party that isn’t just a little bit less terrible than the other and by age 35 at least I knew enough to tell my ex to go fuck himself.

At age 35 our parents wished their world for us and yet by age 35 we found ourselves living on an entirely different planet and by age 35 we wanted to get the hell off.

By age 35 I want to push bank managers up against the corners of their office walls and whisper “Where the goddamn hell is my retirement fund, bitch!” and let the poison leach out of me, the lie that by age 35 I was supposed to be a doctor, a lawyer, something, someone other than anyone with yet another UTI and a single mother with a kid who needs braces.

At age 35 I want to play pretend and the internet wants to play along. At age 35 I have minions for reasons I don’t entirely understand, followers on platforms filled with networks that didn’t exist two years earlier.

And perhaps by age 35 I’d have gotten further if I’d said please and thank you more, perhaps if I’d been nicer, been more grateful, been less less “abrasive”, sucked more cock, said less, said more, got a hair cut, gone gluten free, joined the gym, taken better selfies, done some squats, stretched my glutes, but by age 35 can I just run this bullshit up a flag pole and scream, just scream because YOU CAN’T GODDAMN MAKE ME, I AM OUT, I AM OUT, I AM OUT, FUCK YOU AND YOUR BULLSHIT YOU RODE IN ON WHERE YOUR HOUSES ONLY COST A POUND AND A HALF AND YOUR EDUCATION WAS FREE AND YOUR HEALTHCARE WAS AFFORDABLE…

At age 35 I’d rallied my first failed attempt at an international revolt, hyping masses for decentralised online guerrilla warfare and revolutionary digital rights movements. By age 35, the Occupiers I’d urged into streets got pounded bloody into pavements and a data freedom movement was destroyed by egos in embassies and assholes in hacker spaces and spooks running digital remakes of Orange revolutions in emerging economies.

By age 35, there were whispered threats, and bald-faced intimidations and by age 35 my buddies woke up to police smashing in their door and by 35 my colleagues went to jail, and by age 35 we went mad, fell down, fell apart, were found dead, burnt out, burnt up, used up, never to return, trembling fingers and minds juiced up by a life always online, and too many nights spent never asleep, heart arrhythmias at 35, failing body, minds and souls at 35, curling under a pillow fort at age 35 and whispering “fuck this shit” by age 35.

And by age 35 the threads of the past had cut into my hands, by age 35 some shit wouldn’t just slide away and yet by age 35 I knew I’d never be done until my last breath, the rage in my belly would never die.

By the time I turned age 35, my father — who spent two decades trying to beat some maths into me — had been long laid to rest only a year after his retirement, expectations still dogging my ankles with anxiety

And so at 35 I wandered out into the night and walked the side of a river to its source, sat beside a fire for 48 hours without turning, listened to the wind and the fae in the North and the whispers of the sky and earth and the souls of my feet touching earth and tree and grass and by age 35 I cracked myself open and wept, and at 35 I found a voice rasping from within fiery lungs and by age 35 I shaved it all off, buttons, hair and ties that bind, and by age 35 I sat under a tree and let loose and waded out into the ocean and let it wash away and by age 35 I dissected and reassembled my brain and accepted the broken.

Enough of this dreadful age of 35.

At age 35 I share fairy stories without shame and at age 35 I eat dumplings with friends and at age 35 I walk for miles each day and sleep nights and by age 35 I don’t have a retirement fund worth writing home about, but at age 35 I tell myself this is fine, this is fine, this is fine.

At age 35 I’m still papering the disappointments of my youth against the red-faces of dignitaries and politicians.

At age 35 I am a trash witch that rose from expectations built on failed dreams of the masses and personal excesses and at age 35 I am awash in filthy let down shared by my entire generation, clasping miniature keep-sakes of pebbles, tokens, feathers, shells and each other’s heartache.

At age 35 I whisper “tell me your best thing today” to the multitudes and soak it up like honey mead, a hundred sacred instances, joy found in the small things that won’t pay the bills but keep the spirit alive, and by age 35 I sit in the green of a tax-payer funded park and close my eyes under the weak warmth of the mid-winter’s sunlight.

At age 35 I am rotten with fabulous disappointments and I love it.