An obituary for my twenties
After a spritely start, my twenties had been on the decline for several years until finally succumbing to old age, passing away peacefully at the stroke of midnight last night. It was a decade that will be remembered fondly by all, though in our time together I believe I came to know an all together different side of the popular age-bracket.
Whereas most saw fit to meet the ten-year stretch with optimism, exuberance and open arms - my twenties and I shared a love of misanthropy and solitude, of single syllable sentences and a noticeable aversion to human contact. And sometimes also to showers.
I first met my twenties at a bar in Leeds, where I was studying for a degree in Creative Writing at the time. We hit it off instantly and quickly became inseparable, though I’ll admit appearances were not always as chiseled and well manicured as they seemed.
From the outside an affable, relaxed time period, with easy going charm and youthful good looks to match, my twenties quickly established a reputation for introspection and an abundance of thought, due to the anxiety and self-doubt they brought along. Well that and the nagging, claustrophobic self-esteem issues coupled with a wholly unreasonable body image obsession.
Despite these setbacks, my twenties were a productive time. It was while I was with my twenties that I lived in New York, Los Angeles, London and Sydney, and travelled to many parts of Europe, along with 35 different US states, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Fiji and Thailand.
Together we starred in an Australian television commercial, acted in stage productions in the UK, appeared in the background of feature films in New York and Los Angeles. We interviewed JJ Abrams, Sean Bean and Channing Tatum, had dinner with Christopher Nolan, joked with Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, received an apology from James McAvoy and got on the wrong end of a fiery retort from Mel Gibson.
We wrote two novels, a screenplay, two dozen short stories, countless articles and the odd poem.
We learned to play guitar. We wrote songs and played open mic nights. We joined a band and sang to crowds of up to 50 people at some of London’s least smelly rock venues, places like Camden Underworld, and O2 Academy, Islington.
We mistakenly got asked for an autograph on more than one occasion and didn’t correct the mistake at least once (apologies, person with my signature in their collection).
We closed the show at a Las Vegas casino with a rendition of Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Frankie Valli that received a standing ovation (it was karaoke night, everyone was drunk).
We attended film premieres, a couple of comic-cons, at least one Doctor Who convention, and the Cannes Film Festival. We recorded an album and published a cookbook. We took a contemporary dance elective at university, and owned a pink car named Steve McQueen.
We flew business class and first class on more than one occasion, economy more times than we like to think about and drove a hundred thousand miles (that’s a ball park figure, but includes a 10,000 mile road trip around the US, so I feel confident in the estimate).
We had our picture in a magazine or two, strutted down a few catwalks and stopped drinking for most of our time together just because we didn’t feel like it.
We quit our job and moved to the other side of the world and married a woman way out of our league.
We held many jobs over the years: Bartender, lifeguard, retail monkey, potato mover, accounting temp, summer camp counselor, builder’s labourer, handyman, singer, topless waiter, PA, intern, delivery driver, gardener, classroom assistant, community manager, awards-show producer, journalist, film critic, actor, editor, social media strategist, model, lecturer and writer.
But nothing gave us more pleasure than writing. In fact everything else existed almost solely for that purpose.
There was of course some things that my twenties and I got wrong, and in the wake of their passing I’d like to reflect on those things.
We were selfish, arrogant, inconsiderate and bad with money. We took ourselves too seriously most of the time. We chased the wrong girls and broke the wrong hearts and stayed in when we should have gone out.
We cancelled plans and flaked on others and wondered why we were short on friends. We forgot names and were unnecessarily rude when it felt like too much hard work to smile and be polite.
We didn’t return phone calls or text messages or emails and lost touch with too many people. We ruined good moods and killed plenty of buzz and enjoyed the misery of others almost as much as our own.
But hey, nobody’s perfect.
And there were a lot of positives. When we said we were going to do something, we sat the fuck down and did it (unless it required standing, that is). Live in the US? Done. Get your dream job? Check. Write a novel? Twice and counting.
Convince an otherwise sane woman to get married? You’re darned skippy.
Jump out of a plane. Join a band. Go on a spontaneous adventure. Done and done.
Neil Young once sang ‘it’s better to burn out that to fade away’, but he’s 67 now, so I’m not sure how much water his theory holds. Still, my twenties burned brightly, from where I was standing at least, but they never faded. Not for a second.
The night before their scheduled demise, my twenties and I enjoyed some alcohol, sang some drunken karaoke and engaged good friends in hearty banter. A more fitting place to end perhaps; drunk and in good spirits.
I can only hope my regeneration into a thirty-something has as many adventures in store.
My twenties are survived by my long-suffering wife, our two cats, and my inability to tidy up after myself.