Oscar Wilde said (sort of) that all we need to do to recapture our youth is keep on fucking up the same ways we did when we were young. Because I think if he were alive today he would appreciate my taste in disco pants and spoiled ne’er-do-well pretty boys, I’ve always thought me and Oscar would be pals and so I’ve always tried to take that guy’s advice to heart. But I’ve found that as I’ve gotten older, the message perhaps found a too-welcoming audience in the strobing chaos of my mind: I have sought out, devised, and tumbled drunk in high-heeled boots into newer and more appalling ways to fuck up than younger me could have ever conceived of let alone executed.
It’s fascinating in a disgraceful sort of way — I sometimes wonder if not having the traditional American adolescence, preserved so maniacally in the amber-hued nostalgia of movies and TV, has rendered me incapable of growing up, or worse — set on a backwards trajectory of exponentially compounding immaturity, the Benjamin Button of not being able to handle my shit. But then maybe I’m just incorrigibly drawn to instability, a madly careening moth dead set on plunging into the fire over and over again because the cold sucks and flame is exciting.
I turned 30 in this town half a decade ago, and as a certain visiting comedian warned us some time ago, that is no good. Living here is too easy, too cheap-boozy, too Neverland-y — I have, with my own two waking eyes, literally seen a man serenade a lady into buying him a sandwich. You lose a job and find another before the hangover haze even wears off. Your landlord jacks up your rent and you just figure out which of your bandmates on Hiawassee St. will let you sleep under their synth rig. As someone who has treated the avoidance of responsibility as a sacred duty, this is the lost city of (Mich Ultra) gold, the prelapsarian paradise where the only tree you can’t eat from is one where some buzzkill snake hisses at you to get a real job.
Well I turned 35 in this town a few weeks ago, and that has got to be at least 50 percent more pig-headedly Peter Pan-ic than turning 30 here. I have long felt a perennial and deep sense of impending dread as that third week in October approaches, the cooling weather and darkening evenings acting as a Kurosawa-worthy analog of my own inner unease. Past 21 it’s never any fun to get older, of course, but 35 is when random assholes decide it’s their duty to start sagely reminding you that the end is nigh and everything in your body and mind is about to inexplicably hurt, break down, and sputter to a disgraceful end in record time — who knows, maybe hours after the fateful final stroke of the clock. And as I’m a female, the implication I’m about to hideously and instantaneously collapse in on myself like some grail-groping Nazi is hard to ignore.
But in spite of my advancing age, my persistent struggle to adopt a functional and non-carcinogenic lifestyle, and my shameful inability to clean my room, I feel pretty alright this go-round about getting older. I had a revelation performing some menial task in a grocery store a little while ago, one that almost set me reeling like a punch to the face because it was that bizarre, that new, that foreign to the frenetic spiel of my inner thoughts, which for as long as I have had any distinct memory has basically been that Bojack Horseman episode on an infinite loop, you stupid piece of shit, my internal ouroboros of self-loathing that never runs out of tail to chow down on because, you know, I am a stupid piece of shit.
But somehow, in the midst of manhandling shopping carts and slinging around leaky trash bags, I realized that the voice that used to be a clanging tin shriek in my head is now more like the fuzz you hear in between radio stations, soft, indistinct, just static you skip through as you drive down the road, instantly forgotten. I like things about myself now. I like my energy, I like my big, cheerful personality, I like how much I like techno and good cheese. I like the enthusiasm I can muster for minutiae no one cares about — the small universes at play in filaments of broken glass and chipped paint under our feet. I like myself in part if not yet on the whole. I’m still pretty fucked-up but I am okay.
I have not had the most normal developmental trajectory in the world. The milestones that most people achieve in the febrile fumblings of their teenage years took me until my 20s to get over myself enough to pursue. By then I was doing poorly in grad school the things most master before high school graduation, if teen movies and Smashing Pumpkins music videos are the unvarnished works of cinema verite I believe them to be. So in some ways I feel like I’m running ten years behind everyone else. This feeling is embarrassing in the extreme at 25, but it hits different at 35. I’m at an age where I kind of get the impression I should politely hang up my raver boots and sit at home watching true crime documentaries until I die with a cat on my lap, but I don’t want to do that. I love life too much, even though I’m still deftly fucking it up on the regular.
I started this by citing a dead author I idolized too much as an isolated, horrifically unsocialized teenager and so I might as well end there too: I used to swear by Ivan Karamazov’s oath that even if he hadn’t emptied life’s cup by 30 he would drop it and walk away all the same, no matter how much love of life he had left. I didn’t realize at 17 that 30 was a lot older in 19th Century Russia than it would be in 21st Century America. But then at 17, 30 seems pretty damn old no matter where and when you are kicking around.
I turned 35 this year, which is pretty unacceptable for a woman. I also turned 35 in Athens, which is really unacceptable for anybody. But I’m still here, cup firmly in hand and boots on my feet. I think I’ll be fine.
— Kathrine Klimt
MagnoliaPod: Magnolias are evergreen trees, but their seedpods get up to some freaky transformations in their lifetime.
GingkoLeaves: The carpets of golden gingko leaves that blanket Athens sidewalks in fall is one of the loveliest sights around.
DeadCan’tDance: We all end up there eventually, so you might as well rock and roll and commit light trespassing in the moonlight.
Armadillo: Time makes brittle and broken mosaics of us all.
GottaLoveLichen: A cosmos on stone, Oconee Hill Cemetery.
Rust: There is beauty in rust, in the inexorable process that subdues even steel.
PreparetoFollow: A life lived accrues in the cracks. Old Cemetery, University of Georgia campus.
Junebug: I too may one day meet my end in a parking lot, but I will be in my shiniest pair of pants.
Categories: Kat of Typographies