My birthday is coming up and I'll be 29. Only one year away from the big 3 0. But I've never been one of those women obsessed with age. To me, getting older and even turning (gasp) 30! is no big deal. Getting older means I'm still alive, so I'll take it. I've always been pretty mature for my age and because of the career path I chose, I never really had those "party girl" years. I turned 21 while living in Las Vegas. Which sounds great, right? Sure. It would have been if I wasn't working as an on air reporter with a shift that started at 4am. At the time, I didn't care about partying. I was focused on my career and getting to the next level. Now that I'm unemployed... I'm doing my best to make up for those wasted years that I should have spent partying. But here's the thing, I'm SO bad at it!
I've been in Spain for the last few weeks; Madrid, Barcelona and one of the party capitals of the world, Ibiza. The days are broken down as such: people go to the beach and day drink until the sun sets. Then they have a siesta or "disco nap" until dinner, which is usually more drinks and tapas starting around 10pm. From there, you go to a bar or pub for more drinks while you wait for the clubs to open. Around 2am the bars start to close and you make your way to the clubs, which don't get busy until 3am. You proceed to drink and dance until the sun comes up, head home for a quick nap and then it's back to the beach for day drinking and you hit re-set on the party clock. As my mother would say, "Don't these people have jobs?!?!" My answer to that is "kind of." In Spain, most businesses close for siesta between 2pm and 6pm. So when you know you're going to get a 3 or 4 hour break in the middle of the day to relax, nap and recover from the night before, simply having a job doesn't keep the locals out of the clubs. But because I'm the worst party girl ever, while everyone is having their disco nap, I go to the gym and then re-stock my hostel with fresh fruits, vegetables and water.
Maybe it's the fact that I'm almost 30, but I have zero tolerance for drunk children behaving badly. And Ibiza is full of them. It's just slurred British accents everywhere you look and teenagers puking up whatever shitty "UK special" the bartender dreamt up that night to cater to an entire island full of British children. I found it hard not yelling, "Get off my lawn!” "Pull your pants up” and "Call your mother!” while walking down the street. It's like being in Cancun for spring break, without the tan, hard bodies. Instead, it's pasty, sun burned kids whose body types can only be described as "skinny fat." (God, I miss Sweden) Adding insult to injury, these future "teen mom" cast members are trying to bring back the fanny pack. Just, no. If disapproving glances and eye rolls could kill, the island would be empty. To be fair, I DID meet a very nice British bloke who was nothing like his countrymen, but they are few and far between on that island.
I would have probably changed my flight and left earlier if it wasn't for a completely coincidental trip overlap with a friend. It turned out he was going to be in Ibiza (Baby London as I started calling it) at the same time. I needed an attitude adjustment. Fast. Since I was staying, I decided that if I was going to survive a week in that place, I needed to just lean into all of it. I relaxed my "no day drinking" policy and the drunks on the beach bothered me less. I got hot pink Leopard body paint on my face and arm to fit in better with the child brides, which made me less annoyed by the amount of glitter I had on my body from people bumping into me. I drew the line at the fanny pack though. Never going to happen.
When I say I leaned into Ibiza life... I hit that shit hard! Not only did I suggest going to a nightclub, where I already have issues with people respecting my personal space and inevitably spilling drinks on me... I took my friends to a neon paint party. Whatever image you just got in your head as to what that could be... Make it more extreme. We took a cab to the middle of nowhere because that's the only place big enough to house the largest nightclub in the world. It's called Privilege and any other day, it would be anything but a privilege to be there, but that night, I leaned in and accessed my inner party girl.
The place was packed. The countdown started. None of us knew exactly what would happen when that clock ran out but we knew it was going to get very messy. One minute to go... We put our phones away and tried to protect whatever clothing we didn’t want covered in neon paint. That meant taking my top off and pretending my tan strapless bra was just an ugly bandeau bikini top. 30 seconds. A guy behind us came prepared; armed with two bottles of yellow and pink paint. Without saying a word, he covered his hands in paint and proceeded to put hand prints all over my body. Any other day, he would have experienced a swift kick to the balls… But that night, I was leaning in. When he did the same to my friend's cousin, lingering a bit too long on her chest... It was time to stop playing nice and he got the "you have 5 seconds to leave" look from all of us. 3...2...1 BOOM! The beat dropped and so did the paint. The cannons started firing and paint was hitting us from every direction.
In that moment, there was no ageism, no judgement, no snobbery, not even any issues with the invasion of my personal space. I was one in a crowd of hundreds, dancing to the beat of the music, covered head to toe in paint… and I LOVED it. My friend (who is already 30) and I were probably the oldest people there, but it didn’t matter. We were unrecognizable, covered in paint and smiling ear to ear. We could have been 20, 30, or 40, we were in Ibiza and we leaned the fuck in! Standing in the shower, watching a rainbow of paint swirl around my feet and into the drain, I couldn’t imagine telling my friends back home that I had just voluntarily danced with 18 year olds while covered in paint. That I took my top off to reveal an ugly flesh tone bra and even posed for photos in said bra… in public. If a photo like that surfaced of me just 6 months ago, it could have cost me my job. But now I’m posting them online myself without a care in the world. My mother would ask, "What if a future employer wants to know why you took your top off in public?!” Because I didn’t want to get paint on it, Duh! And if that isn’t as acceptable answer, I don’t want to work there.