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Subtle Bitterness, Eternal Adolescence

Maya Fateeva

Autumn, 2022

You stare at the Oasis poster on the wall in your bedroom and wonder if this profound and deeply intellectual artist-fan relationship is forever. It feels like your wired headphones will always be tangled and Britpop will always be blasted from speakers.

You read Beat poetry lying upside down on your unmade bed, promising yourself that one day being pretentious and leaving unwashed sheets won’t be your main prerogative.

You roam around vintage markets, take Polaroid pictures and talk to elder people like you'll never become one. You collect unspoken vows to be as alive as possible. How many times have you lived in the moment? How many times have you listened to the same record?

Engaging in delusion becomes a habit. You refuse to acknowledge the enjoyment in positioning yourself as less powerful, more immature, or even naive.

In the shower, after a crying session, you step into the water — a striking image evoking baptism— wishing to be reborn as a brand new person. Someone older and wiser. Someone who doesn’t drown in self-loathing from time to time. Someone perpetually one step ahead.

Life becomes a mess — the same way your unbrushed hair looks like most days. Don’t you remember how you cut your bangs sitting in the sink at 3AM last summer? Was it a lifetime ago?

You’re 19 but ever since you remember, you’ve been floating between 11 and 45. Youth seems infinite. This deception is one of the most pleasing things in life.

You try to swallow the harshness of growing up, but this lump in your throat is still present. You question if it's forever, as adolescence is slowly dissolving in your mouth. Will you remember what it tasted like?

You think it will end when you prefer to wear other shoes than your tattered Converse. Or maybe when you forget about the rolls of undeveloped film on your bedside table. Will you still drink Diet Coke? Or wear band t-shirts? Will there be any post-teenage statements?

Will you notice the lack of the suffix “-teen” like a missing tooth? You’ll keep wanting to run your tongue over it, to see how the new age feels, to check if you taste the blood — the evidence of being alive.

Will you forget what it's like to be passionate, rebellious and brave? Or vulnerable, confused and emotionally drained? Will you feel like peeled orange skin? So bright, yet completely useless.

There is an emotional frenzy that comes with crossing the threshold into adulthood. All vague promises and hazy memories explode in your mouth, leaving you with an aftertaste of youth — these years of questioning everything, searching for deeper meaning, trying, failing, suffering, fighting, losing and gaining. They taste bitter and you smile, because you never thought the bitterness could be so subtle.

You spent years building a cathedral of tentative teenage dreams.

Mourning something you still own can be perceived as too earnest, even dramatic, although it's the hazy anxiety that leaves you wondering whether you are the only one experiencing it or you’re not so unique after all. Abandonment, surprisingly, does not feel like wallowing in your misery, alone and pathetic. You experience it through epiphany on a random Tuesday night.

Maya studies journalism and is fascinated by art, alternative music and counterculture literature.

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