In this essay, I write about the idea of having "a place." Why everyone should have one at some point in their 20s and why you'll outgrow it – and that's okay.
The idea of having "a place" is fed to us through our steady and lifelong pop culture diet. Friends has Central Perk. How I Met Your Mother has McLaren's and most conspicuously, Cheers has Cheers.
I've always hated my birthday. But don't get me wrong I absolutely love birthdays. Who doesn't love a day dedicated to celebrating the fact that you are alive and exist? I mean, seriously. But I've always been weird about the number. At age 10, I was mad there were two digits in my age and no longer just one. Then, when my 20th birthday rolled around I was so upset that I was no longer a teenager, I actually made my friends and family celebrate my "second 19th birthday." My cake even said so in swirling pink frosting. (A completely healthy approach to aging, you guys. If you lie on your cake it totally negates the passing of time!)
I'm sure based on those two ages you could guess that I didn't do well turning 22 because "what is there to celebrate after 21? Renting a car at 25?" I ranted. And then 24 was hopeless because I was officially in my mid-20s. "That's when it's REAL," I had told my friend. He had just turned 24 a few weeks earlier. "Too real, man," he responded.
And so for the last 11.5 months I have dreaded my 25th. "It's that much closer to 30," I've complained to anyone who would listen. (My friends really love me.) But now, just 11 days out from the big 2-5 I feel at peace with it. What have I learned? Every age and every phase lasts just long enough, you guys. And it really doesn't matter how old you are as long as you're surrounded by the people that you love, who love you back, and you're having a good time along the way.
And what's scary about that? Not a damn thing.
My taste in both literature and film comes down to a very specific grouping – brat packs. I'm referring to both the original Brat Pack of actors including Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, etc., and the literary Brat Pack which peaked around the same time in 1980s, leading to the same nickname. The literary Brat Pack was comprised of Bret Easton Ellis, Jay McInerney and Donna Tartt. They hung out together, wrote separately, and even weaved some of their characters into each other's novels as casually as an inside joke they might laugh about at parties. The first book by this grouping I read was Ellis' American Psycho which I suppose could have completely turned me off from his entire canon, and by extension, McInerney's, whom I discovered through Ellis. American Psycho led me to Less Than Zero which led me to Bright Lights, Big City. Bright Lights, Big City also happened to be on a list of books you must read before age 30 and so at age 20 – I bought it. I read it in a couple of hours and I moved it up my internal ranking of favorite books to number 1. Bright Lights, Big City had an awful lot I couldn't relate to, New York City, where the entire book takes place being one, but it didn't matter. The way it described feeling lost transcends decades and geography and I loved it instantly. Last night I saw someone tweet, "Pick up the book closest to you. The first line on page 45 describes your love life." I picked up Bright Lights, Big City.
The glittering, curvilinear surfaces inside Odeon are reassuring.
Hardly descriptive of my love life but it did describe The Odeon, where my best friend took me for lunch months ago. She had gone to an event in TriBeCa and noticed the large, red, neon signs and mentally filed it away as a place I would like. (My love of neon signs is well-documented.) And then she decided to wait to go until we could go together but never mentioned it to me. One day we happened to wandering around the neighborhood and she pointed it out. After a relaxing lunch in the warm sun, she asked to take a picture of me on the side of the restaurant. She uses Instagram like a memory book, posting only if it's something she wants to remember fondly. I texted her "I decided to read Bright Lights Big City now that I live here and it talks about the Odeon haha. Good lunch pick :)" Then I closed the book. Notice anything about the cover?
And there you have it, The Odeon. To think I read this book for the first time at age 20, living in Kansas City, Missouri, not even dreaming of New York. And now, I'm 24, living on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
By Kathryn Greene