Feelin’ 22 / We’re Gettin’ Old(er)

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Feelin’ 22… ish. (Also, those lyrics don’t match this image. Wait, is that the point of this song…?)

FROM THE DESK OF: Nina

I have a confession to make: I am not a huge Taylor Swift fan. While she is most certainly not the worst pop star out there – in fact, I commend her ability to make being “adorkable” a thing, and for encouraging young girls and boys to be themselves – I never really did get on board with her saccharine vibe and catchy tunes.

But since T-Swift and I are practically the same age – we’re only about 2.5 weeks apart – there are times when I can actually identify with her lyrics.

(… And now that I read this, that actually might be a bigger confession than the first one. Whoops.)

This past weekend was one of those times.

Before I get into the Taylor thing, let me give you a little context of my life circa 2012, back when I was 22. That was the first time I was introduced to the magic of the L.A. Summer. I had just finished my first year of full-time work after college and I’d gotten into the groove of being (what I thought was) an “adult.” I had time, I didn’t have too many commitments/obligations, and I, along with my friends, was feelin’ myself. My friends and I treated every day like a weekend: rooftop pool parties at the Standard, free concerts at the Hammer Museum and the Geffen Contemporary, late-night nacho and tacos de papa runs, scavenger hunts for free music festivals and outdoor parties… we weekend’ed hard, and we were good at it.

The summers that followed involved some social events, but then strange concepts known as grad school applications, career transitions, and relationships suddenly came into the picture.

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22 came and went… and then suddenly the Wild Snorlax of Responsibility and Adulting appeared.

Spending time together would always, of course, be a great time; but from that point onward, the summer of 2012 would forever be immortalized in our minds as the legendary Summer of the Weekenders.

Now, fast-forward to July 2016: some of us have finally made the career changes we’d been working towards for years, some have gotten into (and are finishing!) our dream graduate programs, some have met wonderful significant others, and all of us have grown up a little bit since then.

But this past weekend, amidst all of these changes, a few of us decided to bring a little piece of that one summer back.

*aaaaand cue the 22*

Here’s the version of 22 we re-created for ourselves.

“It feels like the perfect night to dress up like hipsters / And make fun of our exes…”

… and talk about how dating gets weirder and weirder as we get older while we guzzle down a couple of beers at the Melody Lounge in Chinatown. Still dreaming about that Anderson Valley Cerveza Crema (or what I like to call the Apple Nutri-Grain Bar-Flavored Beer) I sipped there. Yum.

“Everything will be alright / if we just keep dancing like…”

… that kid on that dad’s shoulders jammin’ next to me, or those two guys salsa-ing across Chinatown Plaza, or that chihuahua dressed as a mariachi on the dance floor at KCRW’s Chinatown Summer Nights. Flawless DJ sets, confetti poppers, families and young people alike enjoying themselves… it was such a joyful sight to see, and immersing ourselves in that environment helped revive that youthful energy we had as 22-year-olds that we seemed to forget as we started becoming real(ish) grown-ups.

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The best way to experience Chinatown Plaza is when there is a downpour of confetti.

“It seems like one of those nights / This place is too crowded…”

… So we relocated to Highland Park to continue the night, where our Uber driver fatefully conveniently dropped us off right in front of an elote street cart. There’s no saying no to street corn; one simply must not do it. A love of street food is one thing we didn’t forget throughout the years, and I don’t think we’ll be giving that up anytime soon.

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Important advice: never pass up elote, or forever live a life of regret. (Okay, that’s dramatic… maybe just a night of regret.)

“I don’t know about you / But I’m feeling 22…”

… Even if we were standing in front of the OG location of a little-known store called Forever 21 (which was originally called Fashion 21). Nope, still felt 22.

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Forever 21 was originally Fashion 21. Who knew this was the OG? Our photobombing friend didn’t, and he was pumped to find out.

“Tonight’s the night to forget about the deadlines / it’s time…”

… to grab a cocktail (or two… or four) at ETA. Superb concoctions with equally superb cocktail names helped us unwind as we talked about the shift in professional responsibility that we inevitably hit as we got older.

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The Penultimate Word. Give me some gin, cucumber, and a splash of refined vocabulary + savory-sweet notes and I’m sold.

“It seems like one of those nights / We ditch the whole scene and end up dreaming…”

… at a magical place called the Highland Park Bowl, a pretty cool bowling alley that has been restored to emulate its original state as one of L.A.’s first bowling alleys during the Prohibition era. By this time, we are all awestruck by this blast from the past while also on the verge of falling asleep because #oldfoagielife. Buuuuut we powered through, sang along to some ’80s new wave jams blaring from the speakers (for whatever reason – perhaps an homage to the building’s time as a punk show venue in the ’80s?) to stay awake, and used up all of our strength to stay out to at least 12:30am. I repeat: #oldfoagielife.

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Old school bowling alleys and new wave jams. Such a strange combo, but I’m into it.

Sssoooo our re-enactment of the Summer of the Weekenders turned out a little different than our original experience. We didn’t hang quite as long as we did when we were younger. We couldn’t go to party after party after party, and quite honestly, the only reason we stayed out as long as we did was to have an excuse to get late-night tacos or nachos (or sleep without feeling like lame-o’s for not taking advantage of the night).

But, by golly, did we feel like we were 22.

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No longer 22. But everything will be alright… as long as we keep dancing like we’re 22. Right…?
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