The Saturday morning Miami sun was blazing down on me. The sidewalk felt unsteady and my head was spinning. My energy was in the red and my stomach was shaking. I was covered head to dick in multiple pounds of pure sweat. It was 11:20 a.m., I was sitting on the curb outside of the South Beach Flywheel studio, and I had just been dominated in a spin class by a handful of thirty-somethings who had consumed just as much booze the night before as I had. I took a deep breath and erupted Mount Vesuvius into the street. I figured I’d throw up at some point during my first bachelor party experience…I just didn’t see it coming at the hands of a forest fire level hot spin instructor who spun us all out of the gym.
I know what you’re thinking. Flywheel during a bachelor party? Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it…and it’s what the bachelor – my cousin (not Ben Higgins) – wanted as part of the festivities. My cousin is six years older than me, and it was wicked nice of him to include me for the weekend. I was accompanied by a smattering of his college friends, also all in their 30s, as well as his older brother and another friend of his, both thirty-six. To say I stuck out as the young blood would be an understatement (they also are all ex-rowers who tower over me). My first bachelor party, though not exactly what I had pictured in my head, was a frickin’ blast, and, surprisingly educational. Watching these older, more successful thoroughbreds operate for the weekend actually has me amped to be in my 30s. Am I nuts? Yes, but that’s completely unrelated to this desire to be thirty.
I, like many of my twenty-somethings peers, am still in the “who the fuck am I and what the fuck am I doing” part of my life. It’s a constant worry of whether I have the right job, or if I’ll ever be able to buy a house or pay for a wedding, or (gulp) even meet someone to have said wedding with. Every waking moment is a perpetual reminder about how effing enormous this world is and how much of a puzzle it can be trying to navigate your way through it. Spending nearly three days without anybody my age, getting a chance to observe a bunch of guys a handful of years older than me, has me less afraid of navigating through life.
And look, this isn’t to say that I’ll magically have it all figured out by the time I’m my cousin’s age. It takes trial and error, hard work, patience, and a whole bunch of other motivational poster bullshit to get to the point in life where these men are. And it isn’t that these guys are all settled down because some are single. And it isn’t that they know exactly what they want to do in life because some still seemed unsure that they were working at their final place of employment. One was even at a crossroads about his career, weighing the difficult decision of whether or not to follow his mentor to a competitor’s firm. These are all things us twenty-somethings battle, and clearly that shit doesn’t just dissipate by the start of your fourth decade. But here’s the thing- they didn’t seem to be freaking out about any of this shit. They all, in one way or another, exemplified the “ride the wave” mentality that I think a lot of us are striving for. They seem to have this kind of nirvana, an understanding that yes, this is life, and, in one way or another, it’s all going to be okay, you just have to be confident about it.
Still think I’m nuts? Fine. You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts. There was something about being around them that gave me a confidence that I used to have back in college that has since taken a beating. My cousin got pulled on stage at a Cuban jazz club by Tito Puente Jr., given two drumsticks, and was told to play with the band, playing the same drums once owned by the legendary Tito Puente himself. Watching him do this, watching him and his friends navigate a dance floor, watching them dominate a spin class completely hung the fuck over; it all was a reminder that I can have that self-confidence too, the one I used to have, the one that was on full volume when I was a big fish in a small pond in college, the one that after almost three full years trying to figure out adulthood has had me second-guessing myself more than I ever have before. Their confidence reinvigorated me, and for the first time in a long time, it had me approaching women that, for the last handful of years anyway, I’ve for some reason convinced myself were out of my league.
Maybe it was the specific women I was speaking with – specifically a smokin’ ER resident who I may or may not now be in love with – but it honestly was so much easier talking to older women than it has been to talk to girls my own age, at least the ones I’ve been meeting recently. I had my oldest cousin nudging me in the direction of women all weekend, and most women he pointed me towards had me saying “But dude, they’re so much older (and maybe hotter) than me.” His response: “So?”
So I said, fuck it, why not? Whether I approached alone, like I did with sexiest fifty-one year old I’d ever met, or with the help of a wingman, like with the aforementioned Jewish doctor goddess, the conversations flowed better. I was more at ease, more myself.
Does this mean I need to set my eyes older? I don’t think so. Because I know a lot of the people my age are still, like me, coming into their own. I just happened to be speaking with the female equivalents of the guys I was out with. The ones who seemed to have figured out that all this shit is life. Sometimes (read: often) the conversations with my peers or girls a little younger than me go as you’d expect a newborn calf’s first steps would go. These interactions, these first meetings, these first dates, they can be awkward and timid. We’re feeling each other out, but maybe we’re also guarded because we don’t completely know ourselves yet. With these older women? It felt more like a dance. A give and take that seemed to stem from their own confidence in themselves.
I’m going to find that. We all will. The confidence to take the world head on and rock it. To accept the challenges as they come. To experience it all. To learn from it, to grow from it, and to get to the point where our younger cousins are following us around at our bachelor/ette parties and saying “I can’t wait to be that cool.” So maybe next time I’m sitting outside a Flywheel studio after puking my brains out and the incendiary bomb level smoke stack of an instructor walks out and cracks a joke about how she yelled at me for using my phone during the class, I’ll muster up more than a “Haha yeah” and I’ll see if she wants to hit up a Cuban jazz club with some thirty-somethings. Because honestly, who wouldn’t? .