Sunday, August 24, 2008

So This is Twentysomething?

It’s always a bit awkward to throw yourself a goodbye party, especially when you’re only leaving town for three weeks. But between frantically finding Hungarian Forents and writing your corporations annual report little time is left for socializing. And surely there’s no better place then the Park Hyatt Rooftop Bar to wile away a summer evening, right? As one friend said half jokingly: “I do like you, but really any excuse for a drink at the Park Hyatt.”

And so there we sat on a Monday night, a mélange of my Toronto friends: 1 law student, 1 almost PhD, 1 advertising executive, 1 lawyer, 1 almost lawyer, 2 politico’s, 1 almost MBA and 1 international human rights worker.

On the other side of the bar a gaggle of youngish girls, celebrating a birthdays, sat sipping on champagne and fidgeting with the hems of their dresses; bony asses awkwardly poised on the leather couch’s. The birthday girl’s bubbie and mummy, having driven the girls down from Forest Hill, sat at an adjacent table waiting to present the birthday girl with a bauble in a robins egg blue box and pick up the slowly climbing tab.

“What do you think the percentage of their dresses came from Holts?” my friend Krista, the human rights worker asked, before answering her own query, “I’d say 90% and the remainder from BCBG.”

“What’s BCBG?” Her boyfriend asked.

Soon KB came back from the bathroom breathless. “They’re turning 19!” She exclaimed. “They asked me to take their picture.” Ah… the days when girls still went to powder their nose en masse.

“Tell them life is going to be ok.” I deadpanned, remembering my own awkward years as a 19-year old.

When by friend Brandon, a medical school student, came to visit Toronto a couple of months ago for a medical elective. I would receive a daily text around 9:30 pm. “Booze.” Fifteen minutes later the two of us would find our way to a quiet neighbourhood pub, where we would grab a quick glass of scotch ruminating over our lives. “A family friend told me that these were going to be the best years of my life.” He yawned. We were at a two-drink maximum. At the time, we were both single, “He said I’d be fucking girls left, right and centre. Not true. I haven’t been laid in months.” I empathized, calculating the last time I’d been laid.

At a friends 24th birthday party, a couple of years ago, I ended up walking home with my friend Sarah. “Is this where you thought you would be at twenty five?” She asked. “I guess not.” I answered. At the time we lived at home and it had been a fall of ennui - to quote a much loved phrase of my friend Mr. G and Maglet. But a year later, where exactly were we? In a shockingly frightening way… life was beginning to present itself, significant others were becoming more significant. Careers were becoming more finite. Some of us had joined professional associations, cementing our precarious place in yuppie-dom.

Quickly the three weeks of vacation passed and I was back from my solo-trip through Eastern Europe. I ended up shopping with my younger cousin, Cuz, who herself, was bridging that gap between undergrad and contributing member of society. We found oursleves in American Apparel lining up to purchase some cotton, sweatshop free, t-shirts. It was if, in my absence, Toronto had been taken over by 18 year-olds.

“So you can just walk into a store and buy anything?” My cousin, who has yet to earn a steady income, queried.

“Well… not anything. Anything within reason.” I questioned in $23.00 was reasonable for a t-shirt…

“That must be nice,” she admitted before she became distracted by the girls in front of us. “So what res. are you?” The girl in front of me asked her friend in between chomping on her gum.

“McConnell with Jordana Bluestein. Oh my god… are you so excited for Dal?” The Cuz, a Dalhousie graduate herself, snickered. 4 years is a long time.

But back to the Park Hyatt, where the vested waiter was wondering if we were ready for another round. My Blackberry read: 11:30pm.

“I have a presentation tomorrow morning,” the advertising executive said. She was busy completing a re-brand for a major Canadian company. “I have an 8:30 meeting.” Another friend said. “Still have some work to do tonight.” A friend admitted. I personally preferred to have a teary goodbye with the guy I was seeing, rather then knocking back another gin martini.

Across the bar, the birthday girl, having been presented with a new silver bangle, and an uneaten carrot cake, was rallying her troops for the rest of their night. Bubbie swiped her Visa and the mother slipped the girl some cash for a cab ride home.

“Was that ever us?” Someone wondered. The question was left unanswered, in truth, whether that was ever us or not didn’t matter. It wasn’t us now. And so the group threw down our gold cards, pilled into the elevator and headed back to our rented apartments in the Annex. This? This is Twentysomething.

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