I’ve been thinking about the nineties lately, maybe because of a number one essential album, or because my newest heroine is struggling through her late teenage years and I’ve realized half my life has passed since I was in her place, but somehow those limitless nights and Ragstock-clothed, paper organizer structured days don’t feel too distant. Does anyone else wonder what their teenage selves would think, looking at their lives now? My nineties self would have slept in until noon today, while I rose with the sun and tiptoed out of the house to find the four corners of my mat. The younger me would have moved from splits to headstands with careless confidence, scoffing at some of the struggling yogis around me, but today I struggled in solidarity, focusing on the reluctant give of tendons and those deep pranayama breaths. In. Out. In.
My nineties self would have yawned her way through the tedium of my accounting final exam this morning, not bothering to study beforehand, while I spent every night of the last week reviewing lease accounting, deferred tax liabilities, and statements of cash flow. I was happy, proud even, of my neat little lines of journal entries and amortization schedules. Middle-aged dogs learn new tricks, I smiled to myself. Middle-aged dogs will put their kids through college on their own terms.
I know it’s the wrong decade, but I can feel my nineties self watching me now with that line from The Breakfast Club in her head, tinged by the bleak melodrama only Ally Sheedy could’ve given it. When you grow up, your heart dies. And maybe there’s some evidence to support her theory, when I spend every night getting ready for the next day, when I throw my teary-eyed son in time out for whining, when I turn the radio off just to hear the silence. I find certain things satisfying now—vacuuming, weeding—that suggest an OCD-like appreciation for order, a passionless passion I couldn’t conceive of twenty years ago, although my devotion to organizers should have been a solid clue. (This is not to say I vacuum or weed regularly, but I do enjoy them in moderation, like chocolate or Buzzfeed.)
Then there’s this. My nineties self couldn’t have walked into that boutique after the exam and bought three new dresses for her trip to New York to meet her editor and agent to discuss her next book launch. I was the one twirling and cat-walking in front of the mirror, varicose veins, dead heart, and all.
I’ll circle it back and say what the nineties girl might have understood, what even Kurt understood in that number one essential album. Plurality.
As you are
As you were
As I want you to be
(Nirvana, Nevermind )
Half a lifetime away from the flannel and grunge and pagers and raves, I still dream the dreams. I still taste possibilities. I’ll always be a nineties girl, but I’m a twenty-tens woman, too, and ready for the next incarnation, whoever she turns out to be.