For work, I wrote a story on What 20 Starlets Were Doing at Age 20, a celebrity time machine of sorts. With all the controversy over her new image and her recent performances, Miley Cyrus has sparked somewhat of an age debate recently, saying that people forget what it feels like to be 20. My story looks back on 20 famous females to see what they were doing at 20, and I found that I was fascinated by how different the age looked on different people. It's such an in-between time, isn't it?
For my part, 20 was the year of my first love and my first heartbreak, the year I was forced to understand the strange divide between the two. It was the year I learned that loss can leave you changed and sometimes hardened, but also more free and more fearless than you'd ever hoped.
At 20, I lived with my very best friends, embracing the kind of all-day, everyday friendship that can only come from roommates who know you better than you know yourself. I was San Diego blond, hopeful, and more relaxed than I'd ever been, all side effects from having said roommates.
It was the year I studied abroad in Oxford, stepping out on my own in a way I'd never imagined that I would. It was the year I visited Paris and Amsterdam and Rome and Madrid, the year I drank Guinness in Dublin and sang karaoke in Prague and saw the Moulin Rouge in person. There were fun flings and late nights and long, lazy Sundays spent sipping coffee and walking along the charming, cobblestone streets of England. It was the year I chose to be a writer, the year I learned to let go.
The in-between of 20 carried the greatest extremes, all the highest highs and lowest lows, all the overwhelming feelings of what if and why not, questions of who I was and who I wanted to be. I felt like I knew nothing and everything, like I was forever on the brink of something I didn't recognize.
That year I felt both needed and pushed away, both accepted and wildly misunderstood.
And just weeks before turning 21, at the tail end of 20, I met Radley. There was our first date — the one where he accidentally shaved off half his hair and called to apologize beforehand. There was the first time he sent flowers, a dozen roses, and I didn't yet know how to accept that kind of love.
Now, six years later, I look back on 20 and I miss it. I miss the plans and the dreams that came with uncertainty, the way it felt to live so spontaneously, so in the moment. I miss the dorm and the friends and the feeling that I was always moving forward, always looking ahead. It was a good year, one of my favorites, but also one of the hardest. A give-and-take. That's how it seems to be with 20, I think, because like any sort of gray area, it forces you to act and, eventually, to choose.