I remember in my first term of uni, talking to a friend from home on the phone and complaining to him about my hangover. He was a few years older, had already done the uni thing and said You sound fine. You’ll know it’s bad when you don’t wake up till it’s already dark.
During winter in England, dark falls at 4pm. So it didn’t take long for his words to come true. And it was bad. But I was twenty so it didn’t matter because nothing did.
I had a Zoom call recently with a colleague, ostensibly to talk about my writing, but we’re both from England so we started there. We outlined our career paths and talked about starting again in a new country and eventually rolled around to where-we-are versus where-we-thought-we’d-be.
We both agreed our thirties aren’t what we expected when we were younger. That things aren’t magically sorted and we don’t suddenly feel settled or grown up. And we’d begun to realise that maybe no one ever really feels like that.
I have been thinking about ageing a lot lately. Perhaps because a recent birthday turned me the age my mum was when she had me. Or perhaps because our society only values women when they’re young. Or perhaps because this year has forced us all to confront our own mortality.
Or perhaps, most pressingly, because my dad died before I’d reached any of those milestones fathers are supposed to take pride in – marriage, kids. Though if I’m honest, he’d’ve been waiting a long time.
I guess I’m no closer now to traditional markers of success like home-ownership or job security than I was ten years ago. In fact, I had a permanent part-time job at nineteen so in some ways I’m further away. But I have to remind myself that this is the life I’ve chosen. The life I want.
And I never wake up when it’s dark any more. Though admittedly Melbourne’s comparative proximity to the equator helps with that.
To be honest, these days I am still in bed at 4pm on a Saturday. But I’m not hungover – I’m looking at email and reading the New York Times and eating rabbit empanadillas delivered by a local restaurant.
It’s no better or worse, morally speaking. I guess it’s just what happens when you get older.
A version of this post was sent by email on the 25th October 2020 as part of Internet Care Package – a weekly memoir project in the form of a newsletter. It also includes links to the best things I’ve found on the internet each week and occasional updates on my theatremaking. This blog is a select archive of those emails. Subscribe to get them right in your inbox.