Not saying you should grow up. Not saying you should move.
he fountain of youth lies in staying curious and creating things. So it’s only natural that in the world’s creative capitals, age is just less of a thing. I affectionately call places like L.A. and New York “Peter Pan” cities, where 35 can still feel like 25 if you play it right.
Peter Panning is not just about location. It’s a lifestyle and a state of mind. Nevertheless, being in the latest of my twenties has granted me a perspective of past and near future that shows them to be more or less the same on the surface. If you’ve experienced any of the following, you’ve taken residence in a Peter Pan city:
1) You’re a transplant, re-transplant, or on your way to transplanting.
I haven’t changed regions since I moved to Los Angeles for college. Most of my friends have. They’ve come from other Peter Pan cities—from New York by way of Toronto. From Chicago en route to Austin. Et cetera. But here in L.A., due to the isolation of car culture and historic sprawl, changing zip codes can feel like crossing state-lines.
I have uprooted at least once. Since moving from the Westside to Downtown, my lifestyle has completely changed, and not just because I traded a micro-climate of calming morning mists for one with wafts of street dust and urine. It’s been a complete culture shift, with new creative opportunities and new friends and new vices. All that comes with little surprise. A change of place usually equates to a change of pace and ultimately…
2) Starting Over. And over. And over again.
Once you’ve been handed your last academic degree, there’s little to go off of as a checkpoint for closing one chapter and beginning another. Moving is one of the best ways to get that first-day-of-school feeling once more. So is quitting a job. Most people I know have had multiple careers in the past decade, if they’ve been working as long. PR agent to jewelry designer to start-up coder is not an unheard of path.
Nothing is off-limits in your journey, even if it includes a few months at your parents’ house. And among the right people, the scathing judgment you could’ve received for being wishy-washy in life is replaced with a quiet admiration for following your passions. That’s what we’re all aspiring to do, and more likely to accomplish with the support of our neighbors in Peter Panville. After all, you don’t have much to lose when…
3) You’re single. You’re childless. You’ve got a somewhat disposable income.
If there’s one universal thing about youth, it’s the sheer IDGAF spirit of no obligations. Of course you’re an adult. You have bills (a lot of them) and loved ones to consider. But it’s nothing close to being married with children. Whether you’re 23 or 39, once you have a mouth to feed that’s not your own, it’s harder to blend in at a 4 a.m. rave. That’s not to say it’s impossible. Some of the coolest, most energetic Peter Pan people I know are moms and dads, but they also…
4) Work in entertainment.
Where being first to the trend and breathing down the neck of pop culture is your job. You live and eat and drink the lifestyle of the demographic big media and advertisers have come to worship, 18- to 34-year-olds. You’ve got all the access of a Peter Pan city to feed from. No matter how old you are or what kind of family you’ve got at home, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself at a Flume concert tonight.
Coincidentally, that’s when you’ll remember just how old you are.
Repurposed with thanks from Kindland.