You're Not 19 Forever...

Wednesday 2 May 2018

It's Saturday night and I'm getting ready for a PROPER night out. I've got a pre-drink in one hand, straighteners in the other and I'm surrounded by what feels like 1287 outfit options for the evening. None of which are quite right.

Too short, too cold, too covered, too exposed, too young, too old. I've found a reason not to like any of them before settling on a pair of floral trousers and a white cami top. A far cry from anything I would have worn back when going out on a Saturday night seemed as natural as going to bed early on a Sunday evening now feels. 

Back then it was a short dress (or a long top depending on how you look at it) and tall hair. My heels were always pretty modest but they were definitely heels and my make up involved a fairly generous amount of eyeliner.  

If I'm honest I'm feeling a little apprehensive about this night out. For a start, I don't handle my drink well, and I really don't want to spend all day tomorrow throwing up. Even though I'm now really happy with my outfit the seeds of insecurity are still there, and if I water them with a vodka I'm worried they'll flourish. But most of all I'm asking myself if I'm maybe past this stage in my life?

The plan for this evening is to celebrate a friends birthday, and while I'm feeling just a little too old for all of this, the whole point of tonight is to relive being 18. Same bars, same late night sticky floored club, and same ill-advised take away to finish the night off.

Not helping matters is the fact that when this friend, and most of the people I'm going out with, turned 18 I was already in my twenties, but what I'm feeling most awkward about is being surrounded by people that are 18 now. Kids who are only just settling into the night out routine when for me it feels all too well worn.

But I'm keeping all this at bay, I know to be sensible with my drink and to focus on who I'm with not where I am. And as we settle into the first bar I begin to relax. Looking around I don't feel too much like I stick out, and while I'm failing to taste any rum at all in my exceedingly cheap mojito I'm having a good time. Surrounded by lovely people and Rick by my side.

I'm having fun, so much fun that even the others warning me of just how dreadful the nightclub we're heading for isn't phasing me too much.

I'm warned that it's going to be sticky, crowded, fake indie and that they check everyone's ID on the door. As we round the corner the others get their ID out, mine is in my purse in my hand. We join the queue and true to form the bouncer checks everyone's ID until he gets to me. I fumble with my purse, he takes a second look at me and says 'Do you know what, it doesn't matter actually.'

Part of me thinks that is hilarious, the other part of me feels ancient. Do I really look that much older than the people I am with? And if it's that apparent in our small group what's it going to be like when I make my way down the dingy stairs and into the pulsing basement? When the smoke machine finally takes a break, and the fog clears will I feel like the grown up at a toddlers birthday party?

I'm concerned, but not as concerned as I am with finding the cloakroom, because I've got quite a nice coat with me, and quite frankly I don't want a jager bomb spilt on it.

Shit. I am old.

We check our coats in and I'm just grateful they've given me a wristband rather than some kind of semipermanent stamp on my hand that would last well into Thursday next week.

I decide to skip the first round of drinks, settle in. Not feed my insecurity weed anymore than is necessary. I'm still with a group of fantastic people and actually, I quite like the music. Even if I am a little concerned I'm one of the few people that were old enough to go out when these songs first came out.

We find a spot on the dancefloor. Yes it's sticky but it's not too crowded. I'm not even sweating yet, and gradually I'm getting used to that distinctive damp smell. I relax and concentrate on dancing and the people I'm with.

And I'm having a really good time.

A child wearing a gilet has just tried to come on to one of our friends and Rick nearly cries with laughter. He leans over and says 'If I hadn't met you, that'd probably still be me.' And it is funny, because being young and new to nightclubs, and dancing and trying to cop off with people is funny. We're not laughing at the kid, we're laughing with him, we're just maybe 10 years ahead of when he'll get the joke.

I remember what it was like to be that young and go out. Hoping to dance and drink away the worries of the future, and remember that it wasn't always that successful. Sometimes we'd have a great night out, sometimes we wouldn't. And more than once I had some kind of teary breakdown that I couldn't really remember the next day.

There was no Rick in my life back then, and I didn't really know who I was or where I was going, and so while nights out at 18, 19 and 20 (and beyond) were fun, it wasn't in the same way that this night out is fun.

Right now I'm enjoying myself because not only am I surrounded by people who I love but I also don't mind myself. I don't care that I'm slightly older than a high percentage of the people in there. Or that I'm a good stone and a half heavier than the body that donned the tiny dresses ever was. I'm not drinking and dancing to forget that there's a great big old future in front of me, I'm just enjoying that very moment. Enjoying who I am, where I am and who I'm with.

I love that some of my favourite songs are still being played, even if one or two people are referring to them as vintage. I love that I don't actually feel the need to drink blue drinks when I've never really liked them and I love that a PROPER night out now isn't routine it's something special.

And as I dance away I wonder if I'd go back and tell 19-year-old me not to worry? 

Probably not. Because that worry shaped who I am now, those nights out were perfect in there own right. That was the type of fun I was supposed to have back then. 19 year old me wouldn't enjoy this night out, just like I wouldn't really enjoy one of hers anymore.

And so I dance and laugh and enjoy the moment.

The truth is 27 isn't old, its simply old enough to enjoy different things, and the moment, and appreciate the people you're with.

It's also old enough to be forever horrified by what I saw in those toilets - but that's a blip on what was otherwise a proper good, proper night out.

So, no, you're not 19 forever, and you won't be ID'd forever. But your also not 27 forever, so instead of wishing I was younger, or older I'm just going to enjoy it for what it is and who I am right now.

So go on as many nights out as you want, and relish as many nights in as you like, and don't let the bouncer phase you, because do you know what? He was right "it doesn't matter actually." x

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