I moved to Oakland three years ago on the cusp of my 28th birthday. Like so many spindly-rooted transplants before me, I was ready to leave NYC—Brooklyn to be exact—but knew New York was a hard act to follow. Where could I go? Portland? Too crunchy. Nashville? Too Southern. Seattle? Too rainy. Austin? Too Texas-y. San Francisco? Too tech-y and foggy.
Oakland provided the California analog to my beloved—but beleaguered—Brooklyn experience. Gritty, urban, diverse—look! all the hipsters have asymmetrical haircuts and like expensive donuts here, too!—Oakland inspired me to take the plunge, ex-lover in hand. (That's, of course, another story.)
In these palm-treed years of my Oakland existence I have become practically outdoorsy. I am positively fucking active. In New York I did some yoga and tooled around on my 6-speed, but let me tell you, my existence for six years was mostly long nights in a short skirt.
All we did was drink. We rarely left the city or got up before noon. By the time I was licking the last bit of cream cheese off my thumb on Saturday it was 2:30 pm. This was just enough time to swing by a flea market for a circa '68 sequined party dress I didn't need, throw High Fidelity on my boom-box—truth! I had a CD player until 2011—shower (maybe), smoke a spliff as I put on too much black eyeliner, drink a vodka concoction of some sort alongside my best friend from boarding school (who was still my roommate) and head into the fray. Around 2:30 am we'd snag a cab and try not to vomit as our cabbie over-braked his way back over the Brooklyn Bridge and dropped us off.
So, I was excited to curb my bad habits in California. I threw myself headlong into the sunshine. Since moving here I own not one, but three bikes (one for the mountains of course), swim laps, play soccer, take dance and yoga classes—and occasionally even the miserable TRC class. (And yes, I even joined the climbing gym. But that pretty much ended when I finally took my climb outside and spent 30 minutes clinging to a rock half-crying while demanding to know who in their right fucking mind would enjoy this.)
Oh, and of course I also bike just about everywhere. And no, it's not like I'm some jacked, lean-machine bitch. I feel like the health equivalent of Mindy's normal-chubby conundrum. I'm maintaining.
And amid all this not feverish, but regular exercise, I started to realize that I'm still. falling. apart. There's no moisturizer, diet or bike ride on this whole goddamn earth that's gonna counter gravity and the inevitable aging process. I shudder to imagine if I still lived in New York when I hit the oh-fuck-I'm-30 tipping point—would I be a lumpish, aching mess? What would I look and feel like if I hadn't moved here on a whim?
In terms of my aesthetics, I honestly feel like I've addressed, obsessed and finally accepted my body flaws. I have these ugly wrinkles over my knees that have bothered me for a while, my stomach is jiggly and in comparison to my breast size—32A with padding—my shoulders generally look like a line backer's in a strapless dress. I could squint and see it all three inches lower and fatter in about 40 years.
But man. I was not ready for the face wrinkles. I used to look in the mirror and think I could easily play 16. I could still be the next Chloe Sevigny in her Kids days. But oh no, not now, I don't think so. Between my chest skin, which has a tell-tale swath of darkish freckles, and the rumpling of my forehead and eyes, I couldn't play a day over 21. Maybe that's even delusional.
Then soccer happened. At the end of two recent 30-minute halves my left calf was, shall we say, compromised. I couldn't even put my foot down. A few days later, dead hung over [insert obligatory "I can't drink like I used to" comment] I dragged myself to yoga to try and recoup. In one swift spasmodic motion as I moved from downward dog to warrior one I caught my foot on the damn mat and broke my toe. Seriously. The nail instantly flooded this awful purple color and got all swollen.
I've spent the past two weeks hobbling around with a totally fucked left leg, a mildly fucked right foot and the terrifying dawn of old-face. I know. I know. Age is just a fucking number and all that, but it's scary to watch—and feel—my body deteriorate.
But amidst all of this is the chilling realization that—holy shit—biology class was right. At age 31, I have never been hornier. Not since, like, 10th grade when I would get wet just thinking about walking over to my boyfriend's dorm room to clandestinely cling to each other in a single bed. Then it was new, it was exhilarating. It was all wrapped up in this wild process of discovery. I would wake up at 5 in the morning in the winter to sneak out with the swimmers going to morning practice with a blanket stuffed in my backpack. We'd wend our way across campus feigning that we too were just on the way to gym and then veer into the woods. I used to do it in the damn snow. I kid you not. At the time, I didn't even think it was extreme; it felt utterly necessary and incredibly romantic.
Anyway. On the cusp of my 31st year I feel like I've been rendered asunder; my sex drive has completely taken over. It distracts me at work. It makes me want to behave badly with strangers. (Which, just for the record, I really don't do.) In a recent, I-need-to-masturbate-now moment, I scoured my house like a junkie for half an hour—searching every drawer and appliance—trying to find triple A batteries in the house for my vibrator. In the final throes of my miserable tinglings, I finally discovered the remote control for my roommate's heater and fist pumped my way back to my bedroom where I could release my demons.
But it wasn't until recently when I was at a party with a guy friend of mine, that I realized my current love-heat might be squandered; that what I was perceiving as my second sexual awakening was actually an albatross-in-waiting. I was explaining my current dilemma, expressing my nascent fear that every man my age already got his proverbial freak on at 18 and now is hoping for a steady stream of hot meals and fireside conversation. Meanwhile, I'm panting like a dog in heat.
"Will somebody please ravage me?!" I screamed, laughing.
"Katie," he said smirking, but only slightly. "Honestly, I'd rather be playing soccer."
"You can't be serious," I said stuttering. "That's awful!" He shrugged. "It's true."
"Oh my god. Do you think most men feel that way?! Do I need to start hanging around the high school and snatching up seniors?"
He pondered this. "Maybe."
(Let me reassure you that I have not begun picking up pending collegiates post-football practice. Although, that does sound incredibly hot.) Despite every wrinkle, freckle and unobliging muscle, I still think I look pretty damn good naked. Now I just have to convince someone else to think so before the shit really starts to hit the fan, and there'll be nothing left to do but keep a vomit bag bedside for when you happen to look straight into my 85-year-old vagina.
But maybe by then we'll all be 3-D printing organs in our basement and downloading our consciousness onto an iMind . . . and that haunting vision will never come to pass.