I was going to say 26

This weekend I went up on a trip to Sydney with a good friend from work. We had only recently become friends, mostly because we have a shared knack for bitchery and hilarious quips that we fire at workmates and each other in order to pass by the inane droolfest (not as in, ‘oh look at that hot person!’ kind of drool *drool* but more so a ‘where did my brain cells go?’ kind of *drool*).

For those of you who don’t know, Sydney and Melbourne share a rivalry of sorts between each other. Melbournians proclaim their superiority whereas true residents of Sydney are blithely unaware of existence outside of their town. This trip was also a bit of a litmus test for me as to whether I could potentially live in Sydney to work, the trip ended up educational in a number of ways. And while I’m not claiming that my experience is universally applicable, I’m pretty sure what I experience can be applied to everything, everywhere, ever.

The friend that I went with was markedly older than I, by about 5 years. Blessed with the age-wise unintelligible features that graces most Asians I made the mistake of becoming his friend under the impression we were of similar market research age bracket. When meeting people in Sydney they often expressed shock when I told them my age.

’21? Really? Oh!’

They caught themselves before they said something offensive like,

‘oh, cause I saw the crows-feet and I just assumed… so…’

They then go on to say that they just assumed I was older than 21, because I’m not what a 21 year old is supposed to be like in their eyes. Apparently there are a plethora of key indicators to being a 21 year old. Things like ‘energy’ and ‘youthful looks’ are some of the tangibles I apparently lack. I also have the unfortunate air of ‘maturity’ and ‘togetherness’ that is atypical to the average 21 year old. The average guess was that I looked like a 26 year old. The rest of the trip was spent soaking in Olay, crying and listening to So Fresh Hits of Summer 2012 and Barbie Girl tRock Jamz.

So here I was in Sydney thrust into a temporary hyperbolic time chamber of sorts living life as if I was a 26 year old Sydney-sider. Being 26 years old and living in Sydney was a whole new world, there were things that you could stress about that I didn’t know you could. For example, eating out is a big deal. There’s always a new restaurant or bar to go to and you can just forget about eating and starve forever if you can’t get a booking.

A reservation is about as rare as finding a diamond in your poop, so you put your name down for these magical queue called a ‘waiting list’. This waiting list promises you and your party a table if someone happens to not turn up to their reservation. These people are obviously superfluously cool and non-chalant, or in hospital. While waiting for your table you sit around at a bar, full of other anxious waiting patrons. You awkwardly snack on overpriced bar food because they simply can not bring mains to the bar area (there’s space, I measured).

Stuck for conversation? Never fear, 26 year-olds simply reminisce about previous times and about times to come.

‘Remember the last trip?’

‘Yes!’

‘Was that in March?’

‘No I think it was May… Or maybe it was March!’

Having hardly known some of these people for an hour I was already being invited to their future skiing trips. I don’t ski, and I only know 3/4 of their names but ‘Yes!’ I say, ‘The mountains will be just grand’. 26 year olds are very inclusive, remember that. Whenever you mention any plans ever, it’s absolutely expected you will invite anyone sitting within earshot, even if it is just the waitress re-filling your water.

On the table was 5 bottles of Red Wine. I’m not much of a drinker in general, and wine? Even worse. My friend inspected the bottles saying meaningful phrases such as ‘Ah this French one, I’ve heard of this’ and ‘New Zealand’. I have little to zero knowledge about wine; the origins of it, or it’s consequential quality. My wine knowledge consists of differentiating between ‘goon’ and ‘the fancy kind’. They all whipped around in shock as I declined to try all of them. What a fatal mistake. Of course 26 year olds appreciated wine, I quickly tried to swallow few gulps and made some affirmative sound, however any input beyond ‘mmmm it’s good’ would have been pure, transparent bullshit.

26 year olds also enjoy going out to da clubz a lot. You must understand although I am a young, virile 21 year old, an exhausting night for me would be 4 raids and a dungeon on World of Warcraft followed by a solid 2 hour CoD session. It could also have been a symptom of my new Sydney-sider habits, but going out and drinking every night was an absolute must! You simply weren’t living unless you were waiting to be seated at a restaurant or had some kind of mind altering substance in you.

Mind altering substances were also a big portion of Sydney life/26-year-old-dom. I don’t have an attitude toward drugs. You either take them or you don’t and it’s your business to deal with whatever the consequences/elation may be each way. A big part of conversation  would be the heated discussion about whether you should save or use your drugs for the upcoming night. This conversation can take up to 15 minutes each time, and be repeated throughout the night in non-arbitrary periods. Another popular topic of conversation is the describing, in detail, the effects of the drugs you are taking. You can talk about the highs, and the come downs, and talk about how your body reacts specifically to different drugs. This is usually all done while dancing like your body is on wildfire.

On the Sunday night, I sat with my friend at a cocktail bar (me drinking cocktails on a Sunday is about as rare as… Well me drinking cocktails in general) and the conversation turned to how I was hanging out with a different crowd older than me. He said something along the lines of, ‘You’re a mature 21 year old, and I think that you’ll have a lifestyle similar to what we’ve had this weekend’. He also said something about getting me to start appreciating wine. I switched off and licked the cinnamon off my cocktail glass.

While I might have superficially been able to keep up with these guys on the weekend, the truth was I felt a bit out of place both in age and location. This wasn’t my life, and if it was my future it wasn’t something that I was in any rush to push toward. Even though I ‘could’ live like I did this weekend, my conscious choice would always be to act my actual age (despite the age the cruel betrayal my face purports) even if I had to swap the fine dining for McDonalds, the variation of wine for flavours of Cruisers, and inane talk about nothing for.. well.. I don’t think that ever changes.

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