Twenty-nine, I’ve recently learned, is old—far closer to 50, at least, than to 20.
I made the unfortunate discovery on what was otherwise an idyllic escape from two brutal D.C. winters full of multiple two-foot blizzards and weekly ice storms—a chance to relax, catch up on my reading, forget about work and grad school and finally spend some quality time with my husband.
It was also March in Mexico. A chance, in other words, to grab a balcony-side/pool-side seat to the annual bacchanalia known as Spring Break and spend some up-close-and-personal time with America’s best and brightest.
I had even joked about going on Spring Break to friends and coworkers before the trip, somehow assuming that that the drunken insanity of Spring Break was reserved for Cancun and Florida, that Cabo was somehow too remote, too upscale. It never crossed my mind that I might have innocently cursed us or that John and I were boring, that we would lay in our hotel room night after night groaning and trying to shut out the techno music that thumped from noon until ten—followed by drunken laughter and cheering until four—four a.m., that is.
And squares that we are, we actually called to complain.
“Are you the owner of this room?” we overheard a security guard ask the party above our room. (About half the resort is made up of timeshare properties, of which John and I are members.)
“No, my father is,” one of the boys said.
“Do you want me to call him?”
“No,” he squeaked. And then silence, blessed silence—for a while anyway.
Horrified, we watched hotel employees pick up shattered beer bottles, digging each tiny shard out of the sand, and empty and refill the hot tubs one morning. We tried not to speculate why they might need refilling, and later learned that some of the hotels shut down for a week after Spring Break to clean up.
In Spring Breakland, men old enough to go to war ran around in feathered Indian chief bonnets, Rocky bandanas and knee-high socks, and they walked—barefoot—down the dirty back streets of Cabo San Lucas. Although in all fairness, someone stood in the hall screaming “Does anyone have my shoes?” so maybe a shoe bandit lurked in the hotel. Maybe they actually wanted tapeworms or hepatitis.
Was I ever that young? I don’t think so. I know I’ve never been as thin or as toned or as tan as the girls who pranced around in a rainbow of bikinis. They had bodies only the very young can have, before their metabolisms slow in their mid-twenties and again in their late-twenties. Before real jobs and commutes eat into the hours they spend at the gym. Before they simply give up, deciding that life and a few pounds are worth consuming more than beer and salad.
I’ve definitely never been wheeled away by paramedics in a foreign country, doubled over with what was almost-certainly alcohol poisoning. My mother would have killed me as soon as I recovered.
My most exciting Spring Break was flying first class to visit my aunt and uncle in Florida. Deep down, I probably assumed I was missing out, and there may have even been a temper tantrum or two about how my life was over. I’m not sure. Seven years later, I only remember that I had a great time.
Seven years from now, I’ll probably only remember the dolphins and the whales (that will be an upcoming post), the sun and the yummy margaritas. And the day I finally realized what my marriage, my job and my mortgage had failed to fully drive home—I’m an actual adult. Thank goodness.