A New England

January 18, 2013 § 2 Comments

A wall in Pennsylvania.

A wall in Pennsylvania.

For nearly ten years I have had these photos, or ones like them, on my walls. I was fourteen when I learned what the 27 club meant. Without noticing, the magazine rip-outs have stayed in my room at my mother’s house and for the very first time I looked at them today and thought, Jim Morrison looks so young. I have never before seen his face and thought that it was anything except far older, far more mature, than mine, but today I see it and I see a serious boy with dirty, messy hair and a cold, boney body. It is almost funny.

I look at the date of the photo. 1967. Jim Morrison was born December 8, 1943.  He was 23. Maybe 24.

In June I turn 24 and all the while I have never wanted to outgrow my idols. I never thought I would. Age fifteen, I hear lyrics like, “after twenty-two years you think I’d be used to the spin,” or at twenty, I hear lyrics like, “I had you but now I’m twenty-two.” Or the poem by A.E. Housman, ‘When I was one-and-twenty.’

Or when reading ‘Good-bye to All That.’ I was 21 on my first read. “One of the mixed blessings of being twenty and twenty-one and even twenty-three,” Joan Didion writes, “is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, has ever happened to anyone before.”

Age was far away. Me, I’m 23? Already? As you get older you have to resist comparing and measuring your life against everyone else’s. So one person can already afford a vacation house in Cap Cod. So one person had already written, directed, and starred in a film that everyone at Sundance adored. So one person, very long ago, had already been in the photograph that further enlivened his career and that of the photographer, and now the thing is mass-produced on T-shirts and posters 46 years later.

And then–wait, I’m only 23. It still sounds young. It still sounds like I have a lot of time. I thought people got weird about their age when they hit the mid-thirties. I thought people started lying about their age, or asking how old they looked, much, much later.

Regardless. I will be spending the second half of my 23rd year back in New York, completing my Master’s degree. That sounds distinctly old of me.


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