I live a life a melodrama, of sharply contrasting emotions, which bump against each other angrily and repeatedly. I praise the things that make me joyous and make me laugh, eternally retelling stories of perfect moments until they are almost myths. They are on a pedestal: I look at them and wonder, sometimes, if they actually happened at all, or if I spoke their names too many times, and poof! They disappeared. I cry easily, complain about everything unjust, and live my life in a generally over-the-top manner. This is colour, this is texture, this is how I live.
And so, for me, this is the worst case scenario.
It is 2024 and I am thirty. Well. I am just shy of my thirtieth birthday, and have been adamantly avoiding it for so long that I have prematurely aged. My face looks thirty-three already. People have started making subtle comments that my looks will go soon. The pervasive sexism of young middle-age is yet to be perfectly eradicated.
Since graduating, I have had a couple of jobs but my itchy feet got in the way of my young ones. I spent sixth months as a magazine freelancer until they let me go, but the market was tough and I was getting desperate. In the end, I just took what I could get, grabbing with both hands for something I didn't really want. It was just a stop-gap, I told myself: something to get me by, until I could quit and go travelling and then start anew in a year.
A year passed. Then two, then three, and I still had not left my job. It is in an office in a respectable part of London and I work in marketing or publicity or as a sort-of job that crosses the two, and involves coming up with dynamic Twitter solutions. I have a 45-minute commute on the tubes every morning from my flat, but it's an okay place. It's not as shabby as my last two were. Once a week I go on dates, watching foreign language movies and strolling through the park and telling myself this isn't a bad life, really. I find myself lusting after the interns. They are so young, so full of potential. I want to devour them.
I don't write, really. Not any more. I'm too tired after working all day in things I couldn't care less about. I try to leave, sometimes, but it's so hard. Somehow I am stuck, and responsible. The last place I went on holiday was Venice, with my then-lover. We argued the whole weekend, and I came home with only a handful of photos and a brooding sense of resentment. I look at the tattoos I got while young with a sense of detachment. They feel like someone else's. That can't have been me. I would never spend £200 on ink and pain; that could get me a nice pair of shoes, or earrings.
It's not a bad life, this corporate drudgery and complete obedience to the status quo, with nothing unexpected and no adventures. There is no melodrama, and I watch as my friends from university get pregnant and married and divorced, fired and evicted and transatlantically job-shifted, and I tell myself the stability is everything I need. It's not ideal, but it's... not bad.
But it is the worst case scenario.