I just had my first appointment with a new family doctor and was forced to answer all those lifestyle questions as she took my medical history.
“Do you do drugs?”
“Do you smoke?”
“Did you ever smoke?”
“Do you drink?”
“How much do you have?”
“A glass of wine.”
The doctor was young and stylish and it occurred to me that she might think me a boring loser. I found myself wanting to lie, to conjure up some sordid past to tell her about so she would find me interesting but I couldn’t think of a single off-colour anecdote.
“Sometimes, I’ll start a second glass of wine.” I said.
She didn’t write it down.
It’s not even like my propensity for fun is inversely proportional to my age. I didn’t have all that much fun when I was younger either. I did everything I was supposed to do and more. I worked really hard at school, was on the student-council every year, participated in the peer-counselor program, volunteered in a palliative care unit of a children’s hospital. These things kept me busy, like Election’s Tracy Flick, except even Tracy Flick was secretly sleeping with her teacher. I had a hard time moving to second base.
“Can you get a sexually transmitted disease from a boy touching you over your bra, but under your shirt?”
“No,” said my former doctor, “for the love of God go ahead.”
I wasn’t so sure.
I didn’t smoke or do drugs in high-school because at the time I thought I eventually wanted to run for office and worried about forestalling my political career with tell-alls from former friends who claimed they saw me inhale. I smoked up in university, here and there, but was never certain I was doing it right. Was I high, now? I never knew.
Looking back, I didn’t have very much fun at all. I feel like I have spent my whole life working away, turning down invitations, coming home early, giving up on travelling and other opportunities, all to prepare for a career that I have now decided not to pursue. I threw every ounce of myself into a four-cornered view of achievement and am left trying now to put myself together enough to withstand the g forces. I should have stayed out later when I was younger, turned the music louder, danced more, drank more, smoked more, taken off my bra. I should have let myself free fall.
I am still inundated with obligations but I find myself itching now for fun. My restless hands are tingling for something exciting to do. And not a going for brunch, walking around farmers markets or art galleries exciting, but a kind of pure, overwhelming joy, a rapturous delight with my circumstance. I want to feel the way I did shopping for toiletries to take to sleepover camp. I think that is the last time I felt really electric. I was twelve.
With this sad realization, I have decided to launch Project Twenties: a mission to live in my thirties all the fun experiences I should have had in my twenties. But where do I begin? My home is semi-detached and I don’t want to disturb my neighbour with loud music. I have asthma, so I don’t think smoking will be very fun. I could go out dancing but I have to be home to let the dog out. And won’t my breasts sag if I don’t wear a bra? I have been looking at renting a place abroad this summer, maybe living in Spain like Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Except, even if Javier Bardem himself propositioned me, with a clean bill of STD health from a certified doctor in hand, I would still turn him down. Isn’t that how episodes of Law and Order start?
Clearly, I have to approach this with a WWWND mentality, “What Would Wendy NOT Do,” and then do that. I need to let my hair down. But I always wear it down; maybe I should start wearing it up? Either way, I am on the look out for new experiences that are totally uncharacteristic and bordering on reckless so I can finally feel the wind through my pinned up hair. I am looking to take risks and amass a sizeable number of regrets. I don’t care if they hurt, if I spend the rest of my life wishing them away. The only remorse I fear, the one that will make it difficult to meet my own eyes in the mirror, is my feeling the need to live my thirties in my forties.