THE PAST 10: My Twenty-Somethings

I was 20 and I was done. The boy. Check. The apartment. Check. The dog. Check. The car. Check. The job(s). Check. College degree. Almost. Future. Locked and loaded. I knew what forever-after was going to look like for me and for him. I had a 3-year, 5-year, shit, even 10-year plan.

One of the first photos taken of me after the fact.

The boy. Gone. The apartment. Gone. The dog. Gone. The car. Mine. The job(s). Employed. College degree. Senioritis. Red flags. All over the place. Hind-sight. 20/20. My forever-after was smashed into a jelly in the matter of seconds. I stared into the eyes of the person I thought I was going to love forever morph into a person I didn’t recognize as he grabbed my throat and threw me backwards into our staircase. No more 3-year, 5-year or, shit, 10-year plans. Goodbye Tucson. Hello Hollywood.

After frequenting showcases on the Sunset Strip, writing press releases for future Taylor Swift song inspirations, and working on the tours/marketing of today’s Queen Bey, I turned down a job, the job, to finish my undergraduate degree and take a job in the marketing department at my university. Hello Tucson, again.

Typical Bang Bang evening with friends.

Armed with a BFA in Visual Communications and faced with the 2008 economy, I stayed in Tucson, keeping my design job in the marketing department and a rigorous social calendar. Monday Nights. Surly Wench/Golden Lanes. Tuesday Nights. Metalhead. Wednesday Nights. Walk-in Wednesdays. Thursday Nights. Mortal Kombat/Optimist Club/Gong Karaoke/Late Night Movies. Friday Nights. Indie Friday. Saturday Nights. Bang Bang/The Grill/Shot in the Dark Cafe. Sundays. Bloody Mary Sunday/Cup Cafe/YNOT Karaoke.

I did a lot of talking. I was bored with my social routine, but kept at it anyway. A boy kissed me on the dance floor at Hotel Congress and told me he wished he could be with me as I was the most beautiful woman he had ever met, but that he was going to stay with his girlfriend. I moved in with a friend to save money. Didn’t save a dime. Ate a lot of DQ Blizzards. Went on road trips. Explored caves. Hiked mountains. Volunteered frequently. Was a hair model resulting in a lot of different hair colors and lengths. Also did some work in stock photography, both in front and behind the camera. Daydreamed about leaving Tucson and reinventing myself.

January 8, 2011. 
I watched my little-big city become another name on a list of cities ‘touched’ by gun violence. I was not ‘touched’ by it. I was broken, scarred and transformed by it. I watched Tucson be momentarily stunned, only to immediately respond by reaching out to one another, holding on in support and strength. I helped construct roughly 20+ angel wings and stood as an angel at the funeral of Judge John Roll. I still worked at the university that welcomed President Barack Obama to Tucson. Together We Thrive. Five months later I applied to the Arts and Cultural Management program at Pratt Institute. Hello Brooklyn.

New York City. The view from One World Trade

New city. New life. Kind of. More rebuilding my life, instead of reinventing. I was back in school and on weekends at that. Found my first Brooklyn apartment in Crown Heights, the not-yet gentrified part. Someone looking for drugs tried to break into my apartment while I was away. Another person fleeing the cops, running across rooftops fell into my skylight. The skylight was never fixed. Lessons in landlords. On my 26th birthday, I was slightly drunk and filled with too many fluids from a pho dinner that I confidently peed on a crowded downtown C train at roughly 12:30a on a Tuesday. I was 2 stops away from my stop, a gentleman handed me a kleenex. Lessons in humility. I took a job as a production director at a stationery company in DUMBO. Loathed it and was let go the day after my birthday. Three weeks later, I was stage managing shows at Joe’s Pub and working in their marketing department.

My 27 Club, Box Office BFF

The 27 Club. The age my friend, Hank, and I had romanticized since we were kids in the back of a high school psychology class. I was finishing up my masters degree and realizing NYC wasn’t going to be a place I called home.

Became a Master of Arts and Culture. Took a new job down in Lower Manhattan and another job as a pole dance (or fitness, whatever makes you feel more comfortable) certified instructor. I bought a pole and installed it in my room. You’re welcome neighbors. I taught classes and found my tribe. Embraced my inner hippie — started brewing kombucha, conquered 30-day hot yoga challenges, began the journey to becoming a Reiki practitioner and started volunteering at my local CSA. Danced to 90’s music at The Bell House with my Ponies. Shakespeare in the Park. Celebrated Brooklyn. Great Googa Mooga. Governor’s Ball. Governor’s Island. Kingston. Sacred Brooklyn. Botanica. Erv’s. Prospect Park. IncrediPole. Pancake Month. Sin City. Road trips up the east coast. Still not in love with NYC.

29 started feeling like 20. Only in the more professional sense. Masters degree. Check. Fancy NYC job. Check. Apartment across from the park. Check. Side hustle. Check. Tribe. Check. Then. I herniated both my L4 and L5 discs. No more teaching for a while. I had to make the difficult decision to put down my ride or die meow, Dorian. I hear there’s music when you go. My apartment suffered a bed bug infestation, albeit minor. So many plastic bags and loads of laundry. It didn’t seem to matter if I swiped left or right, I always seemed to make out with more frogs than princes. Deleted all the apps for the tenth or millionth time, who’s honestly keeping track. But. I took a trip to Nashville with my father. We spent the days living in musical genius and our nights drinking whiskey and eating lemon pies, listening to live music always. It was on the road to Memphis that he told me,

“I raised you and your brother differently. At the end of the day, your brother is a middle-class, white guy - he will be fine. But you are still a woman in this world, and I wanted you to be able to stand up for yourself and not have to be in a position where you have to depend on anyone...
But I think I did too good of a job.”

He was right. I started to look for new jobs in new cities…

…but in the end, I pawned my entire life for a renewed passport and roughly 2.5 months after I turned 30, I handed over the keys to my apartment to an incredible friend, trashed my belongings, quit my jobs and booked a one-way flight to Montevideo, Uruguay to begin a journey to everywhere and nowhere all at once.

I’m currently lost in Belgrade, Serbia.

Note: I was inspired by my friend, Leanne Iva, to start writing again when she posted her take on a piece from last month’s New Yorker by Catherine Mevs titled My Twenties: A Retrospect

Read Catherine’s piece here:

Read Leanne’s piece here: