If 40 is the new 30 in The City, then 30 is the new 50 on The Island

A dear family member once came to visit me because he needed a change of scenery. Upon finishing a delectable meal, we strolled in Gramercy while deciding what to do in a city of endless possibilities. Live jazz below Houston perhaps, seek out a sexy concoction at the nearby rooftop lounge, or find tickets to the hot new burlesque show that got excellent reviews in New York magazine.  An independent film was out of the question.  It had been a long, stressful week, so we were ready to cut loose.  Whatever the final choice, we knew there would be plenty of good booze, good music, and good conversation. He then turns to me and says:  ¡Qué buena es la vida de adulto contemporáneo! It suddenly dawned on me how youthful I felt, considering that just a couple of months ago on The Island I was una vieja de treinta y pico de años.

The Island is a place of extremes.  The middle class is rapidly disappearing; education and healthcare are acutely inclined toward the private sector.  Most importantly, Island society is devoid of a balanced continuum of life experiences.  Therefore it comes as no surprise to be called a hag by the age of 30.  I will gladly explain why.

At 15 you attend all the Mis Quince celebrations, thus you get your first taste of partying and drinking.  It makes sense that from 15 through 18 you will have three years of serious partying under your belt. From 18-23 you are at your peak, reigning supreme in the social scene.  Attending college, you still live at home  (there are no college dorms except for the art school Altos de Chavón).  You might have a job, so you spend all your money on yourself because mommy and daddy are supporting you (hence why most bars and lounges are overflowing with youngsters).  At 23 and upon graduating from college, if you haven’t been in a serious relationship, you are on the search for such.  But I warn that at 23 you are running late.  By this time you should be celebrating your eighth year of amores provided that you have kept your high school sweetheart as your boyfriend.   However, if at 23 you are lucky enough to find an Island suitor who regards you as decente enough, you may expect to be in this relationship for about three years if all goes well.  Because there is no dating on the Island, ALL relationships are expected to end in marriage (formal marriage proposals are non-existent).  Which means that marriage at 26, is signal for you to immediately conceive your first child.  Your second child should come by age 28, the latest.   So you see that by age 30, babies and marriage  (and the monetary expenses that accompany them) overhaul your life, thus hindering any opportunity to come out and play with other adults.  The most you do is have dinner at a friend’s house or attend birthday parties, also at a friend’s house.  Worst of all, if you happen to be a single female Islander,  at 30 you will most likely be touched by spirituality, hence all nightlife desires are expected to come to an end.  Either way, you have no choice but to be content,  for you have been partying for fifteen years now. Ya ta’ bueno.

So do not be shocked when you call your family and friends on The Island in hopes to paint the town red, and the greeting you get is:

No porque tu sabes que después que llegan los hijos… y ya la edad de uno no es para andar en el medio…  después que yo me casé ya yo no salgo…  mi marido no me deja salir, y mi nueva vida espiritual me prohibe llevar una vida de excesos.

Do not take it personal either.  As Yorks, we take for granted that with every passing New York City minute, we seize the opportunity to reinvent ourselves.  Carpe Diem is our Modus Vivendi.   We have galleries to open, restaurants to rate, meetings to attend, traveling to plan, portfolios to diversify, lectures to attend, books to get signed, careers to change, cocktail parties that require our presence; the list goes on.
On occasion, debauchery looms (after all it’s NYC and we are thirty-something reigning supreme).  And the next morning over brunch, we slowly begin piecing the vestiges of the night, asking ourselves what the hell did the drag queen waitress put in the blue drink that propelled us to take off our shoes and skip around Columbus Circle while singing Je Ne Vais Pas Travailler?

I end this entry by stating that I am not in the business of validating peoples’ choices, except of course if they are judging mine.  But there is something  that knocks the wind out of me when I hear people my age say, pero…¿Es que tú no te piensas recoger? To what I respond:

Don’t we have the rest of our lives to be old?

13 responses to “If 40 is the new 30 in The City, then 30 is the new 50 on The Island

  1. Coinsidence or not, your subject is very timely…

    You mention being ‘ready to cut loose’ and doing so in the City, contrasted by the Island’s many restriction on partying or going out for an evening of adult fun past the ripe old age of 30.

    Well how timely, that we are in the midst of Passover which calls for us to Free ourselves of whatever enlaves us. Some of us who grew up in the social BONDAGE of the Island are now free to live life to the fullest in the City.

    Here’s a shout out:
    To all my Jewish friends, Happy Pesach!!!
    To all my Dominican-Jewish friends, Sosua has a treasure of your most cherised traditions celebrated on the Island. I can’t wait to visit the Jewish Museum in Sosua on my next visit to D.R.
    Peace B with U all.

    • I hope you realize how dufifcilt it was for many of us to try and get the water pieces to fit into our terribly over crowded orchards for the previous challenge. If there is going to be a future challenge where we are doing activities on the island we are suppose to create I sure hope you give us some land to build it on first. The last land we got barely made a dent and you used almost one whole lot for the mine. We need some land that doesn’t require building anything on it. Between the new mills and storage units and 16 water pieces we are worse off now than before we got the 5 new lots.

    • If one were ever in any doubt of the prestigiousness of this cocfnrenee, then one need only take a look at your last photo. Such an assemblance of short story writing talent. I’m in awe.And thank you for your wonderful posts on this cocfnrenee. It’s inspiring to read about these all too rare events, which celebrate and honour the most glorious of literary forms.WarmestRob (from robaroundbooks.com)

  2. Life should never be so predictable. It’s a game and knowing the end result is just soooooooo boring. I don’t like knowing what my next move SHOULD be. People, live and let live!!!!

  3. I lived on the Island for 4 years and had a blast, partying and enjoying my time there with my friends who at that time were in their late teens to early 20’s. Now most of my friends are in their late 20’s and I am in my early 30’s and every time I go I ask myself, what happen to the fun. It seems like they are void of any real places to enjoy and pass the time. The new trend is having a place in the outskirts and getting away from la capital every chance you get. Its seems like if you reach a certain age in DR, you have to get married and have kids (the social norm)then you enter this twilight zone where there is nothing that society has to offer as Nuala stated for “adultos contemporáneos”. In The City, you can never run out of choices of things to do, in the Island, the choices ran out a long time ago. Someone needs to call the paramedics and breathe life back into the island before it chokes of boredom.

  4. Diache! Ya to me imagino la barsa de jamonas y gente frustrada. How sad. Get over people. So happy I have the freedom to be happy in an untradional way 🙂

  5. Yo recuerdo que en la escuela primaria nos enseñaron que los seres vivos “nacen, crecen, se reproducen y mueren”. It seems to me that the culture in the DR is to apply that literally to their social life. One has to meet a mold and follow certain patterns from the way to dress, to career and life style. Naula, the expectation to be married after turning 25 and in the way to start an imminent family is not only true for girls but also for guys. Everything is structured so after graduating from college, the “logical” next step is marriage. The lack of options is simply scary, and logistically absurd for us people who do not fit the mold. It’s like living in a matrix.

  6. Hi Nuala,
    you’re just hilarious, i’m really enjoying your blog.

    i must say though, while this might be the general rule there IS HOPE! for there’s a younger (maybe more “educated”) crowd that is not minding what society imposes so much anymore. they’re hardworking Dominican women and men in their twenties that earn their salaries and actually get out of their houses and live a more independent life without following such rules. It’s a harder and more-against-the-odds way of living but its happening and each time more and more. So please dont loose hope on our little island, i’m trusting the system will eventually recognize this subculture and find ways to go easier on them para que no tengan que coger tanta lucha en un futuro.

    Por otra parte, i got married at 29 wheeww me salvé de esa de chepa! lol!

    • It’s a shame you don’t have a donate btotun! I’d definitely donate to this superb blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to fresh updates and will talk about this blog with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

  7. gisselle castillo

    wow!!! you just described my life …fom fifteen through 30. The only difference is I ran away from that birthday party and the “woman stays at home” life.I’m in miami chic! Dance all day play all night!!!! ja..ja..ja..ja… love your blog!!

  8. Hahaha! Nuala pero danos un break porfa..por lo menos se ha desatado el “viejevismo”

  9. Pingback: Step Into The Mold « Nuala Knows

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s