Today, in class, Alexander Chee said in response to the way that his young students would write about aging, he would correct them: “At a certain age, having the same things happen each day is a victory.”
Yesterday (on my birthday as I inch closer to forty), in contrast, talking to a former twentysomething coworker, he noted a paragraph from my essay about my own twentysomething experience where I had rejected the notion of repeated doldrums of adult life. “That’s why I don’t want to get married,” he said.
I was awestruck by that. The moments depicted in the essay were more than years ago when I didn’t know who I want to be and how I want to be. I had embraced the idea that to be alive, it meant taking every opportunity to discover and feel free. What I didn’t know then was that discovery doesn’t mean that it’s meaningful. Being alive isn’t about adventure. In some way, yes, it’s about safety. Which seems risk averse and “too” safe. Yet, the happiness and maybe just satisfaction is the fact that my “home” is defined by someone. So no matter where we areâ€”whether it’s at home for months on end due to the pandemic or a sleepless nights in a foreign city where we don’t know the language, that’s what I seek.