A collage of right now

If my current snippet of life — Mar. 25, 2019 — was a collage on my bedroom wall, the usual glossy magazine spreads would be filled with sunny iPhone snapshots of residential city streets, lined with old, salt-covered cars and barren trees. Sun flares would hint at optimism, at sparking new life into bare branches that just suffered through a whole winter, with tiny buds still imperceptible to the camera.

If the subject was me, at least my skin has been clear lately. My eyes would be shaded in bronzer because I’ve stopped wearing real eyeshadow much. My skin would look pale. My highlights have grown out a lot, leaving my hair several shades between light brown and nearly white bleach blonde. I’d likely be wearing a fiery orange scarf from Ecuador, a fluffy cardigan coat that’s not quite warm enough to wear on its own yet, flat shoes and jeans now too big after losing a few winter pounds. A thick, black suede belt secured by a large, gold buckle would hold them up. I’d smile a little, looking for those buds on the trees and checking the weather app to see if summer is really coming anytime soon.

The inside scenery shots (the ones that in real magazine collages might feature a beautiful living room or apartment room with room service and the New York Times sprawled on the white bedspread) would show 12 textbooks teetering on the edge of a small, circular bedside table, a cold tea I forgot to drink, a lit candle and a mustard yellow planner with an erasable pen. If another photo showed the planner spread open, you’d see the illegible to-do lists sectioned into days, crossed off and left undone, detailing homework, story assignments, coffee and drink dates and household chores. Only 75% of all of it ever gets done. Hopefully.

What is a 20-something’s collage without inspirational quotes? They’d probably be written by some literary icons, like F. Scott Fitzgerald or Walt Whitman and some internet poets, and center around love, loss, ambition, living life to the fullest. Movie stills would supply the collage with its necessary angst, probably featuring Carrie Bradshaw or Holly Golightly saying something quippy about independence and youth. Billy Joel’s Vienna lyrics should be somewhere in there, half hidden by a photo strip from a local bar’s grimy photo booth, taken drunkenly and in which I look horribly bad in at least one strategically covered up square.

A few pieces of nostalgia will worm their way onto my wall, including but not limited to: a recent badge with my name and title on it from a college journalism conference, a concert stub, a New Yorker cartoon I found particularly resonant, an ironic card saying “you’ve gotten really good at crying in public.”

Perhaps a fitness photo disguised as a postcard — maybe a woman in a beret riding a bike, carrying a baguette? — would creep in, followed by a healthy recipe written in the New Yorker (but only if it’s for oven-roasted asparagus), an artsy capture of a New York City taxi, a reading list by someone whose taste I respect and a few Melissa Broder tweets (to protect the angst) would find themselves immortalized on my walls for Mar. 25, 2019.

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