I’m in purgatory.
Today I spent the first half of my shift working with a bunch of married men who are just five to ten years older than me who were referencing TV shows and websites that are just before my time. The shifts of the 30+ men ended midday when the college and university students started their shifts. I was doing a nine to five, working half of my time with both. The evening coworkers talked about turning eighteen, the memory of wounds still fresh from finishing high school, and being too afraid to get credit cards.
After work, I went to the creative writing club I’ve just joined. This time, I was the youngest person in the room. Instead of being thirty and up, the age group for the club is largely fifty and up. Despite it taking place in a college, no college students actually attend. I am one of the few members who doesn’t have white hair. You would think that the shared purpose uniting us, writing, would enable me to connect with these people, but it doesn’t because I’m just so far out of their spheres of life experiences.
We were silently scribbling away, responding to writing prompts, when the music from the campus bar in the room next door started thumping. The college Halloween bash was in progress while I was sitting in a room with a bunch of people double my age. Half of me wished that I could join the party next door, but I knew that I would likely be the oldest person in that room. I wouldn’t belong there either.
I recently had to let a romantic interest go because despite ticking off many boxes that match my own situation, he’s at a point in his life where he wants to experiment with drugs. To use the terms I told him: drugs are a deal breaker. Why? Because I’m beyond the point in my life where I want a partner who’s doing activities like that. Even though I’m the right age in some respects, in the end I turned out to be just slightly wrong. Close, but no vape.
I feel like everywhere I go, I am either too young or too old, too accomplished or not enough, too mature or too immature. The void I’m stuck in seems to be enveloping this city like the vaporous fingers of mist. I keep bringing out my flashlight, thinking I’ve seen movement and found another survivor in the fog, but the shadows in the dark keep turning out to be trees or buildings. The truth is that I’m alone out here.