Today I am thirty years old.
To some people, 30 is young, practically a baby. To others its the end of the road. It’s so old and so far from their minds. That’s one of the things I love about life and people. Everyone has a different perspective. Something that seems incredible, exciting, scary and monumental to one person may seem like just another drop in the bucket to another. Our experiences shape us and help form those perspectives. I have thirty years of experience doing life. Many people would say I have at least another thirty to look forward to, but I know that isn’t guaranteed. That “pessimistic” (I call it realistic, but most would call it pessimistic) outlook on life is because of the things I have experienced in my life.
Coming up to my thirtieth birthday my mind and heart have been heavy with thought of my own mortality. Thoughts about what I’ve done with my life, and what I have yet to do. I don’t fear death. Let me clarify, I don’t fear my own death. I fear the deaths of everyone I love. So I haven’t been approaching my thirtieth year a doom and destruction mentality. I have been spending much time reflecting on my life, though. I believe that reflection is healthy, and a necessary part of life. I have lived a pretty great life. I had one extremely shitty day, and that day has had a tremendous impact on my life ever since. Before that, though, and following, I have had a pretty great life.
Let’s take it back now.
Way on back to 1983. A beautiful summer day when this little girl was brought into the world. The doctor didn’t need to slap her to get out that first cry. The way I hear it, she came out screaming, and hasn’t stopped crying since! I am a cry-er. Every emotion finds it’s way out of my body via my tear ducts. I sincerely hope that if I ever have children, they do not inherit my childhood ways. I don’t know how my parents did it! I cried at the drop of a hat, and I was the pickiest eater in the world. Sorry Mom and Dad! I still do cry every day, but I am now quite the opposite of that picky little eater.
In the first 10 years of my life I got my first pair of glasses, my first boyfriend (Jason, 2nd grade), 6 new siblings, I learned how to ride a bike and then roller skates. My mom started teaching me how to bake and sew, and my dad was my favorite cuddle partner. Dad used to lay on the couch to nap during the day (he worked nights) and I would sit in the crook of his knees, I called it his “cubby”. I would sit in my dad’s cubby and watch TV for hours on end while the boys played outside. I was a good, albeit extremely shy, student at school, and I loved going to girl scouts once a week after school. I couldn’t pronounce my R’s.
Over the next 10 years of my life I changed rapidly and frequently. I went through just about every stage a child could. I stayed shy. I was a tomboy, a ska chick, a goth, a punk. I had black hair, yellow hair, pink hair, spiky hair. I stopped wearing glasses in favor of contacts. I was a vegetarian. My rule was that I wouldn’t eat anything with a face and a family. I became ever so slightly anemic, because my diet consisted of daily french fries, and whatever I was force fed for dinner, usually pasta. I went through more boyfriends than any girl should have, most of those being one-month “relationships” in high school. Those really don’t count, right? Until finally, at 17, I started dating my friend Jon. I graduated high school by the skin of my teeth. Okay that’s not totally accurate. I started slacking off in school in Junior High. I did horribly my first two years of high school. No joke: at one point my GPA was 1.1! You practically have to TRY to get that low. I redeemed myself and became a better student for the final two years of high school and graduated with a 3.5 GPA. Not too shabby.
Now for my twenties. The most recent 10 years of my life, and the most monumental. I didn’t have a big, crazy, drunken party to turn 21. I barely even drank on my 21st birthday. Really, people, all you who are under 21, drinking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and it is certainly something you can wait to do. At 23 I married my high school sweetheart, Jon. We moved to Seattle, Washington to start our lives together, and we had one hell of a life together. It was wonderful. Tragically, in January 2010, I was 26 and he had just turned 27, he was killed in an accident at work. This is the extremely shitty day I talked about earlier. My husband died, and I died. It’s not something I’ll be writing about extensively here, but that day has shaped all the days following.
In the past 3 years, 5 months, and 21 days I’ve learned more than I learned in my previous 26 years of life. I know who I truly love and who truly loves me. I’ve learned that my family and close friends are the most important things in the world. I moved from Seattle back down to Orange County and I will live here forever. There is no way I’m moving far away from my mom ever again. Our parents don’t just take care of us when we’re babies. They care for us our entire lives, whether or not we notice. My mom and dad have taken care of me in more ways than I could ever count and in more ways than I could ever thank them. Relationships with close friends, siblings, and parents have strengthened. I’ve lost friends along the way, too.
In my twenties I took a solo trip to Italy. A trip that I will always remember. I traveled to Japan with two of my favorite men in the whole world. I hope to travel with them many more times, and I hope some other people will begin to join us. In my twenties I started and stopped college a few times, until finally I found the school that I was passionate about. I began and finished culinary school. I got to meet nieces and nephews, blood related and otherwise. I got to see my friends get married and watch their lives unfold.
I have started dating. I have a boyfriend. I think I’ve only uttered that sentence to my mom and my best friend. I’m dating a man that makes me smile in a way I wasn’t sure I would experience again. A man that knows me and loves me despite and because of everything that has shaped who I am today. That’s all I will say about that for now.
My twenties have brought tremendous ups and downs, learning experiences, growth, maturity. I’ve had a pretty great life. I do hope my thirties are less eventful than my twenties were.
I was talking to my dad about turning thirty and one of the things I said was, “I guess I have to be a real grown up now.” He replied, “No, that’s crazy talk.” I agree, Dad. Let’s stay young and exciting forever regardless of the number of earth rotations we’ve seen!
I’m glad to meet you today, thirty. Let’s continue this crazy ride together, shall we?