Portrait of the Artist as a Young
Girl Woman – Age 25
There comes a time when age really is nothing but a number; when you’re just a description like “too young” or “grown.” But at 25 it really is a distinct number. That age can be one of those in-between times–not quite too young and though at the time you’re likely to deny it–not quite grown. Couple that with being on a campus looking like the undergrads but being far removed from that lifestyle.
At 25, I was teaching on the university level (to call myself a professor betrays the living stipend that was supposed to be a livable salary), in grad school full time, and barely able to relate to anyone within 5 years of my age–on either end. 26-30 year olds were too settled for my tastes; 21-24 years olds weren’t settled enough.
To remedy the quandary I decided to pursue activities that interested me and let the rest fall into place. First, I found a Boys and Girls Club near my apartment and proposed an internship. It was my first year in the community, but being on campus from 8 a.m. to nearly 10 p.m. almost every weeknight made me feel less than part of it. And I lubs da keeyids. So I figured this would give me a chance to get out and become part of my new city. And I lubs da keeyids.
Social life, for me, has never equated to clubbing, partying, or any of the other euphemisms associated with social activity involving loud music and alcohol. A culture girl, I decided that I would join the staff of the campus’ “alternative” news magazine that listed the kinds of events I felt most comfortable attending–festivals and poetry readings and worldbeats spinning from the corners of obscure independent art galleries–in their weekend page. And I like writing.
Too bad The Vine staff turned out to be all undergrads. Our meetings were a mix between discussing impromptu ciphers in Monroe Park, discussing the newest neo-soul lp, and challenging The Man on his insistence to make us look like the mainstream University paper, the Commonwealth Times. Apparently producing University student media rife with typos was a quasi-revolution.
I headed into the train wreck a little giddy but mostly pulling at straws. I loved having creative control over the Arts and Entertainment section–it was quite different from the MFA poetry I was penning for class and publication endeavors. Functioning in genres outside my own has always been a useful exercise in conditioning for me. I am a little stronger in my chosen aesthetic each time I commit to it.
But I was pulling at straws in the social department. The average age of those who attended their publicized events, even the cipher, was in that 5 below range that was on a different part of the journey than me. So I stayed away. But I excitedly manned my section; finding the appeal of journalism again after having spent a year as a freelancer for a small town news daily.
Later when I would meet people in my social circle who had graduated from the same school as undergrads, I discovered that the Vine had been part of their experience too. Turns out water seeks its own level. And for the record, I later discovered I wasn’t as grown as I thought I was.