Fun. It seems to be coming up a lot in conversation these days. The other night I was sitting at a Brooklyn bar, dividing my attention between the friend across from me and the tattooed hipsters flanking me on either side. “What was the most fun time in your life?” my friend asked. “What was the best?”
For me, these are two divergent concepts. My “fun” period lasted somewhere between the ages of 19 and 23, a solid run of dancing in high heels, stalking boys, and shotgunning Monster energy drinks at least four nights a week. My rent was a fraction of what it is today, I was still on my mother’s corporate health care, and modeling was of my primary concern. There was something beautiful about this era, in that it was the last time I could act like a kid, being that tomorrow and “What’s next?” never really crossed my mind. Like all those books on happiness advise, I lived in the moment. And those moments were fun.
There comes a point, however, when one has looked around a club and realized they’ve been dancing to the same song for four years, with all of the same people, and though the conversations have occasionally deviated into something meatier, you’ve been recycling the same charming small talk you came up in 2006. I remember the moment I stood in the middle of a dance floor in Los Angeles, listening to Flock of Seagull’s “Space Age Love Song,” and, for the first time out of the thousands I had heard it, I made no attempt to dance. The novelty had worn off. My “fun” era was coming to a close.
In the years since, I have become more serious, more focused, more conscious of what I want my life to look like. The present has often been sacrificed for the sake of future. There are many more nights of self-parenting, those moments when you must assess whether you want to feel like hell the next morning or if you want to go home early and be a functioning adult tomorrow.
Oh, there’s the word. Adult. That thing you always wanted to be too quickly as a child and what you didn’t want to be once you were one.
In a way, my life has become less fun than it was six years ago, at least by my old definition. And, in truth, I mourn the loss of that fun, its levity and carelessness. In its place, however, is an increasing appreciation for the smaller things – the way the clouds stack over the Manhattan skyline at sunset, how the old man on my street makes sure I have my umbrella when it’s about to rain. By comparison, the happiness once derived from those old nights is thin and penetrable, not the deep connection to life that I increasingly crave as an adult. And in this way, my life in its current state might not be the most fun, but it is certainly the best. — Jenny Bahn