Semi-Charmed Life by Nathan Heller
The New Yorker (Jan 14, 2013)
A lot of things, good and bad, crap & words-worth-reading, have been spewed out in recent years regarding being a twentysomething. I feel every other week another article or book comes out with attempts to analyze what the hell is going on with this generation. Some writers get it terribly wrong, or have awful projections for the futures of current millenials; others will use a cliche to tell you its the best time of one's life. Often I get tired of reading or hearing about them. I just want to live, man, and not have to overanalyze about what this period in my life is supposed to be and mean.
Sometimes people get it right. I think "Girls" gets it right (I finally watched the first season last weekend!) And I think Nathan Heller gets it right too. Ultimately, this period of anticipation, desire, hope and hopelessness is universal and timeless and he sums up the point of his piece beautifully in the last couple of paragraphs.
"Twentysomething culture is intimate and exclusive on the one hand, and eternal on the other. We tout this stage of life, in retrospect, as free, although we ogle the far shores of adulthood while we’re there. Sometimes those two illusions of the age converge: Nielsen data indicate that the most enthusiastic audience for “Girls” is middle-aged men.
The shock of the twenties is how narrow that window of experience really is, and how inevitable it seems both at the time and afterward. At some point, it is late, too late, and you are standing on the sidewalk outside somewhere very loud. A wind is blowing. It’s the same cool, restless late-night breeze that blew on trampled nineteen-twenties lawns, dazed sixties streets, and anywhere young people gather. Nearby, someone who doesn’t smoke is smoking. An attractive stranger with a lightning laugh jaywalks between cars with a friend, making eye contact before scurrying inside. You’re far from home. It’s quiet. All at once, you have a thrilling sense of nowness, of the sheer potential of a verdant night with all these unmet people in it. For a long time after that, you think you’ll never lose this life, those dreams. But that was, as they say, then."
Post a Comment