yesterday, i turned twenty-five. when i say twenty-five, i mean a quarter century. when i say a quarter century, i mean the quantity of time by which a person discovers how they intend to live their life, except that i am still figuring out what it means to live at all. i am not graceful. which is to say, i try too hard to be at ease. i once learned a word - kalokagathia - it means beauty and nobility of the soul, but my tongue feels clumsy when i try to say it and my soul feels clumsy when i try to be it. i like small places but large crowds make me claustrophobic. when i say claustrophobic, i mean sometimes i desperately want to be left alone, but once i am alone i am bombarded by the kind of thoughts that make being alone scary. do you feel like the world has robbed you? sometimes i feel trivial, which is to say, i thought my life would be more extraordinary by now. what i mean is, if i were a plant i would be a vine that stretches its neck out as far as it can but is never able to start over. when i was in ninth grade we dissected a sheep heart and i was awed by the intricacy of the cardiovascular system. i wish i was still in ninth grade because then i could tell miss thomas i don't care where the aorta and the superior vena cava are. which atrium feels heartbreak? which ventricle heals loss? maybe then i would not now be twenty-five with the heart of a sheep. one time i went to a ballet and i fell in love. when i say i fell in love, i mean i cried but no one saw me. when i say i cried, i mean i wanted to be the tiny dancer that you held close. beautiful and strong and effortless. i once had a friend who paid for his gas five dollars at a time. cash. we never had a destination but we never ended up in the wrong place. when i say destination, i mean life. when i say life, i mean time revises you. i mean sometimes i get to the bottom of a bottle and it becomes a lens that i see myself through. i mean everything is uglier up close, but tomorrow i will wake up a different person than i woke up today. i mean i overheard my seventy-six year old landlord reminding her daughter that we are always becoming who we are, every moment, not all at once, and i felt bad for eavesdropping on an intimate moment, but it is probably the best advice i've never gotten

*written in response to the essay first date by Sabrina Benaim

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