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As I bid fond adieu to the status that came to, in some ways, define who I was for the last year and a half, it's time for some retrospection. I liked being jailbait. It was fun. It was an easy out to shrug off lecherous advances, and though it prevented some relationships that I would have liked to pursued, the balance comes out in its favor.

What was it? It was having a man come up to me and ask if the 'terrible news' he'd just received was true, was I really as young as that guy over there had just told him I was? It was always having to leave Cafe Coco at 11:45 so as to get home by the Metro Nashville Davidson County curfew of midnight. It was Natalie Portman in the Professional and Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver and a Catholic Schoolgirl Uniform whenever I felt like it. It was never being able to go to the Underground or the Voodoo Lounge with my friends, and going to Love Circle to watch the street lights instead. It's asking other people to buy my cigarettes for me. It was going to a noder gathering after senior prom. It's being dubbed "The Official Piece of Jailbait" and having it stick. It's being pulled over and harassed by the cops for 45 minutes after Rocky Horror Picture Show, until friends come and rescue me. It's feeling intellectually, emotionally, and in all ways superior to the people of your generation.

It's the goods and the bads and the in betweens.

Most of the time, it had very little to do with sex, and very much to do with trying to be an adult before I graduated from high school.
This is walking into my $18-lychee-martini bar located in the back of a lower Manhattan building up 2 flights of stairs and behind a Japanese restaurant twice a week, and ordering Glenlivet by which the unobtrusive bartender always knew I meant the 15-year with rocks. When I felt extravagant I would order the 18-year; I got a kick out of drinking the Macallan (my second favorite speyside distillery-- they didn't carry GL 18) not because it was really much better, in fact it was too flowery, but that I could drink scotch older than I was.

I became addicted to the Bossa Nova at this bar, ever since I usually sat in the back room, with the worn-in red velvet banquettes and draperies-- quiet enough to hear the quiet samba-jazz in the background. I came here often with my Rio-born London-raised American-schooled friend who knew all the words to 'Garota de Ipanema', which would start him reminiscing about when he was a child, watching the sunrise sitting on the rocks between Copacabana and Ipanema under the towering statue of Christ the Redeemer. He'd talk about how it was more civilised - he would say it as if it were spelled with an 's' - but I know he is only referring to the simplicity of childhood that we both lack-- and though he is only 26, I make him feel very old.

For the past few years, I think, I have been wearing my age on my sleeve, as an excuse to feel special just doing what you're supposed to do in everyday life; get a good job, go to a good school, save money, keep my grades up, give to charity, be nice to old ladies.

On the 15th of August I moved into my new apartment, the day before I turned 18. The fourth apartment I've lived in since I got to New York. For 2 years I've been living in immoderately huge places in Good Neighborhoods, and taking them for granted. When I got to this one on Morton and Greenwich the first thing I thought: 'I'm supposed to live here?' It was, suffice it to say, a typical Manhattan apartment. Small. Small like a closet, except without any.

So I got on the phone with my parents in Pennsylvania and begged them to do something about it. They sent me a Hallmark birthday card and a compact hanging shoe organizer and just told me, 'You knew what you were getting into when you moved to New York.'

I called my friend from Rio at his Between-Park-and-Lex pied á terre looking for sympathy, but he just told me horror stories about attending undergrad in West Philadelphia during the 1990's crack epidemic. "You're spoiled. Just get rid of the things you don't need."

"But I need everything."

I'd moved into this apartment with everything in the trunk of a 14 year old Acura. Still, I didn't know what I was getting into. I realize now I'm very lucky to live in this crap apartment in the West Village, all the way on the west side near the Hudson, in a charming neighborhood best expressed with a venn diagram with 'gay men' in one circle and 'weird yuppies' in the other with substantial overlap. This tiny thin-walled ridiculously overpriced apartment is the kind I should have been living in all the time.

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