Twenty-four feels like planning trips and studying maps and making sure your connecting flights actually do connect.

Twenty-four feels like frequent trips to banks and earning enough to shop for your own wardrobe, and buying clothes for a season you’ve never experienced before because you’ve never really traveled that far from home.

Twenty-four feels like no homework, no one really bothering if your hair is too long or too short anymore.

Twenty-four feels like being ecstatic that you can give back to your parents after years of worrying how you’ll ever repay them since the day you saw your mom grow her first gray hair.

But twenty-four also feels like lying on the same bed you grew up in, same room, same house, everything just quite more yellow and gray — and realizing that nothing is the same.

Twenty-four also feels like sitting on your bed like you did when you were fifteen, writing stories about the day you’ll get out of the small town, only now the love of your life has found someone he’ll spend the rest of his life with, and this time you are well-acquainted enough with life to be sure that it was not and is never going to be you.

Twenty-four feels like being okay at your job, like a sophomore getting the hang of rolling with the punches. You’re fine, you’re good, you’re stressed out, and it’s apparently alright.

Twenty-four feels like worrying about your friends in the darkest moments of the night before you fall asleep, because they might just be as lonely, depressed, or lost as you feel some days — though you never know for sure because you barely see them, totally lackluster in comparison to the way you all imagined things would be back when you all were still in high school and skipping gym class.

Twenty-four feels like seeing photos of the boy you used to like being engaged and happy, and realizing that it’s too late to tell him how thankful you are for that one night he drove you home.

Twenty-four feels like re-living the days you were singing old songs with your dad because all your favorite songs now all sound like how they played music in the 60s and 70s.

Twenty-four feels like wanting to run and drive and climb a mountain every other day.

Twenty-four feels like realizing you’ve never really celebrated your eighteenth birthday, and you still really haven’t come to terms with the fact that you actually missed your best friends’ birthdays and weddings.

Twenty-four feels like missing so many little babies, boys and girls, most of all your nephews, and then your friends’ children, whose tiny little lives occupy your intermittent, time-zone stricken conversations more than anything.

Twenty-four feels like wondering where you’re off to next, and perpetually questioning if you’re heading the right direction — not that it bothers you so much anymore if you’re actually where you’re supposed to be… except in the most important hours of the night when you’re supposed to be getting some sleep for tomorrow’s never-ending big day.

Twenty-four feels like being on a very turbulent flight and being surprised to find yourself peacefully acknowledging that you’re actually ready to go if you had to.

But most of all, twenty-four feels like being seven again, only yearning for genuine affection and connections, deep down just wanting your parents to be proud, longing to run around in free and open spaces, and being tired, and wanting to be carried by dad to bed when you passed out in the car.

Published by April Jillian