I make this statement after recently spending the night in a bar playing a Marvel vs Street Fighter arcade game until my hand cramped up. And what an excellent night it was! The swell of elation as I kicked major butt, swiftly followed by stroppy annoyance after someone far superior came along and showed me how it’s really done. (And then walked away all smug before I got the chance to master his moves and K.O his ass in a rematch! Grrr.) At 31 years of age, there is nothing about this that strikes me as a juvenile way to spend an evening. But should it, I wonder? Personally I would say, of course not, but when talking to many of my contemporaries – female in particular – I realise that, to some, it does come across as a bit ridic’.
For the most part, I assign that quizzical look I so often receive when describing my evening’s activities, to my “unique” personality and the many Celia-isms that activate eye rolls and sympathetic groans. However, when leaving the city and heading back to the Midlands, pretty much EVERYTHING I talk about is greeted with that dumbstruck look. “You don’t know how to drive?” “Nope.” “Do you own your flat?” “Don’t be silly.” “You ran a market stall?” “Yeps.” “You sold fecking comic books?” “Shit yeah, I did.” “Do you live with your boyfriend?” “Nopes.” “When are you guys getting married?” “Never.” “Don’t you want children?” “Not ready to think about that yet.” “But you’re 31! You’re considered elderly, in childbearing terms, at 34.” “Shut your damn mouth…Mom!” (Just kidding, my mother is surprisingly cool about all of the above – probably because she knows that most of the above would involve a rapid decline in her bank balance.)
So many more of my friends back home are settled into family life, which is a lovely and beautiful thing, but, shit, I feel WAY too immature for it. So we’ll go for coffee and ponder over the separation of our lives. (Even though I’m against going for coffee. If you ask me to go for a drink, coffee does not count!) We’ll talk about all the things we used to enjoy doing and how much fun it is to still experience crazy new things…and that’s where we’ll hit the fork in our road. In a city like London, with so much going on all the time, if you don’t want to stop doing mad shit, then you simply don’t have to. It’s not weird or out of place to quit your job, live in the tiny box room of an enormous house and write music all day. It’s not crazy to decide to take up circus performing in your spare time. There’s no need to think twice about having a 50 year old flatmate. (Well, maybe.) You won’t be the oldest person doing your job, even if you take an entry level position. You can drive a car if you want, but you don’t really need to. No, riding a bike is not a child’s activity. (Not that I like cyclists, particularly, ringing their damn bells along canal paths. Shove your stupid bell!) It’s not at all out of place if an eccentric millionaire decides to leave envelopes of money around for you to go find – it’s exciting! You might very well see a crowd of naked cyclists pedalling through the city – for a good cause, of course – on a Saturday afternoon and you can get involved or just not get involved. It’s a choice that is there for you to make. You definitely don’t have to sit around getting “old” if you don’t want to, that is for sure.
It’s true that London is a different place for different people and to look at that on its positive side, it means that someone like me never has to grow up! Neverland – never gonna happen, but I don’t feel the pressure to adhere to some life plan just because everyone else is doing it and that’s liberating to me. I both cherish and embrace it. In fairness to my parenting friends, they too are embarking on crazy new adventures. I mean, milk ejection reflex! You can hear the sound of any baby and your titty will blast milk at them! How cool is that? (Maybe it won’t “blast” the milk exactly, but you know what I mean.) It’s a shame then, that raising a family in London is an expensive thing to do, causing many cool parent adventurers to up sticks and leave the city. If I take off my rose tinted glasses for a second, is this place that I love truly a place to grow old? Will the evolution in gentry leave me cold and empty eventually? Will I satisfy my selfish desire to do as I please as my own needs take leave and fulfilment is found in the pleasing of others? The city is no fairy tale, I must acknowledge this. It’s full of wonder and horror and I have a lot to see and do. If to grow up is to settle down, get a serious job, buy a house and a car and start a family however, then, no, I won’t grow up. I’d rather seek out those who redefine that ideology and join them. I think this is a great place to look.