On Friday night, I went back in time and got to re-experience what it was like to be a teenager. Which meant that I stayed up ridiculously late in order to do something of negligible amusement, surrounded by a thousand people who would periodically scream for no reason.
Turns out, I'm too old for that.
As pretty much every sentient being in the known universe knows, the last book in Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series came out on Friday night. And that is why I found myself at Borders with my friend Sylvia, standing in line for our copies at the midnight release party. It seemed like a good idea at the time. We both love the books, we both had passionate (though opposing) points of view for our favorite characters, and we both knew that our normal lives would screech to a halt when the latest book, "Breaking Dawn" came out, doing nothing but reading until we finished it. So it was a no-brainer to be in line to buy it at midnight when it came out.
But once we got there, Sylvia and I both realized that we were a little out of our element. The crowds were massive - literally hundreds of people were milling around. Some wore costumes, more wore t-shirts proclaiming their allegiance to either Edward (the vampire) or Jacob (the werewolf) in as clever a way as possible. I had neither a costume nor a t-shirt, not wanting to put my lack of wit and creativity on display. (I tried to brainstorm clever t-shirt sayings with Ryan, but he was no help. The only one he jokingly suggested was "Long Live Dumbledore." He is soooo unhip.) The winning t-shirt in the t-shirt contest was "I already know how the book ends. -Alice" Which is super clever, to fans anyway.
Sylvia had pre-ordered the book, so she got a numbered wristband which, unbeknownst to us, they had started handing out at 9 a.m. All the real teenagers knew this, and had started standing in line THE NIGHT BEFORE, and consequently we ended up as number 895 in line that night. We were herded out of the store and into the parking lot where we were loosely organized into groups of 200, then told to line ourselves up in order of our numbered bands. So we found the 800-1,000 group, parked ourselves roughly in the middle, and sat down. That was around 11:30.
The thing I hadn't taken into account when I agreed to this little evening out was just exactly how long it would take for the 894 people in line in front of us to pay for their books and move along. Here's how long: hours. By 12:30 they had numbers 1-400 inside the store, but the line in the store wrapped all the way around the perimeter, so just being in the building meant little. By 1:00 a.m. I was wondering if there were lines like this at the 24-hour Walmart, or if we could just walk in and buy the book. By 1:30 I was ready to stretch out on the asphalt and try to get some sleep. We finally bought the books at 2:15.
Which brings me to my point: I'm not as young as I used to be. I remember the days when "sleep" and "schedule" wouldn't even make sense if used in the same sentence. When I was 18, I came home from a party at 4 a.m., then drove 2 hours to Irvine Meadows Amphitheater in order to get a free KROQ t-shirt, then ended up at an all-day singles ward activity. Man, was I proud of myself - that seemed like such a cool thing to do. Looking at it from this side of 30, all I can think was, "What a stupid waste of time! Why not get some sleep and then pay $10 for the shirt at some decent hour instead?"
It's not just a stamina thing, it's a change in thinking. There's more logic in my brain now then there used to be, as I'm sitting on the ground in a parking lot trying to figure out why I wasn't at home asleep and buying the book in the morning, when I'd actually be awake to read it. The teenager in me was thinking, "It's not about convenient shopping hours, it's about the experience! The party! The crowds! The energy! Living in the moment!" Ryan's had the same change in thinking. His moment of enlightenment came when he realized that there is no need to fight the crowds and stand in line to watch a movie on opening night, when the SAME EXACT MOVIE would be playing every night for the next four weeks.
Overall, though, I'm glad I went. It was fun to hang out with Sylvia, who had brought a deck of cards and we played Egyptian War and talked about the other things that we'll probably never do again now that we aren't teenagers. For me, it was never going to another concert where I spend more time dancing than sitting, for her it was never being in another mosh pit. She had brought both Twizzlers and Red Vines to snack on, because most people have as strong a preference for one over the other as the fans at Borders have for Edward vs. Jacob. (FYI - I prefer Twizzlers and Jacob, though not together.) Plus, neither of us had our kids with us, which pretty much guarantees an enjoyable evening. The weather was nice and warm, there was live music and lots of time to just relax.
And, naturally, when I got the book home, I couldn't put it down - I ended up reading a hundred pages in an hour, completely enthralled by the story and only going to bed because the adult in me had to instill some sort of discipline on the teenager in me. I went to bed at 3:30, but the teenager in me was dragging her feet the whole time, totally willing to stay up all night on one giant reading binge that I would absolutely enjoy at the time but would probably regret in the morning. And even tonight, I am having a hard time going to sleep with the last 225 pages still unread.
Now that I've unleashed the teenager in me, where will it lead? Will I go back to middle of the night Slurpee runs and hanging out at the mall and absolute disregard for circadian rhythms? I doubt it, but I also don't think I'm quite ready for orthotic shoes and buying elastic waist pants from mail order catalogs either. I think I'll stick with doing things that are slightly ridiculous and occasionally challenge logic, throwing caution and healthy sleep patterns to the wind. Occasionally. With lots of naps afterwards. After all, you're only young once.