Thursday, July 27, 2017

On Birthdays: Thankful for Today & Thinking about Forever


I turn 33 on Saturday, August 5th, a little more than a week away. I knew my birthday was coming, of course, but I just didn't realize how quickly, how soon. I kept thinking, "I'll make plans for my birthday. I've got time!" - & now, all of a sudden, time has just about run out. I'll be 33 next week.

I've been thinking, lately, about my last few birthdays, or at least the ones I remember. I can remember & differentiate as far back as 27, I think, but it's my thirties that have been on my mind.

I wasn't upset about turning 30. In fact, I was excited. I was excited that I'd made it, especially after a suicide-by-30 promise that I'd made to myself about a decade earlier. And I was excited to feel like an adult, to have my opinion heard & trusted more than I ever felt like it was in my twenties. The night before 30, I had a panic attack; I hardly slept, worrying about what I was doing with my life & what the next decade had in store for me. But then, the day came & went, & I was 30, & all was fine.

I turned 30 in D.C. just a few months before I decided to move back home. It was a slow, laid-back day; I went into the office that day but then headed home a little but early & missed my office party. I hosted a get-together with friends at a taco place I loved, & my boss showed up. It was his birthday, too, & everyone in attendance sang to both of us, then passed around 30 cupcakes, 10 apiece from the best bakeries in the city. I drank late into the night with a college friend who didn't mind heading into work hungover the next day.

I turned 31 just a month after moving to Cleveland, & it was a day that went by without much fanfare. Mike & I had been together just a few months, so we got a little fancy for the first birthday we'd ever celebrated together, making dinner reservations at Spice Kitchen + Bar in Lakewood. The meal was just OK, but what really stands out is the birthday gift Mike gave me: The complete boxed set of the Harry Potter series, the kind that comes in a Hogwarts trunk. It was accompanied by a two-page letter that I still cherish.

I turned 32 last summer, & my actual birthday was the hottest day of the year. I took of work to go feed giraffes at the Cleveland Zoo, but I bailed because it was just too hot. That night, Mike & I drove to Columbus & stayed in an AirBnB before heading to the Ohio State Fair (a.k.a. my favorite place in the world) very early in the morning. We spent the day eating fried foods & marveling over the Butter Cow & walking about 20k steps

I've just been thinking lately about... well, life, I guess. I've been thinking about how much life changes over the years, for all of us. We've gained new friends & lost old ones & gotten married & gotten divorced & had babies & moved across the country & gone to grad school & gotten new jobs & bought new houses & God-knows-what-else. At almost-33, I finally feel like... yeah, I'm an adult. I may not always be a good one, but I do, finally, feel like I supposed to be here, like I'm allowed to be here.

But I've been thinking, too, about how, at the same time, so many things feel the same as they ever have. Last night, I got together with my longtime best friend & soon-to-be maid of honor, Christina, who lives in Tennessee. We are vastly different people - than each other, than we used to be, everything. And yet, when we get together, we are exactly the same as we always have been: We laugh so hard it sometimes hurts, we reminisce, we tell stories, we find the stupidest things to be hilarious. We sat in her childhood bedroom working on a craft project for my upcoming wedding, wearing pajamas & watching Newsies & eating Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, her parents asleep downstairs as we laughed well into the night.

I thought getting older would be so scary. I thought getting older would be so scary that I once legitimately planned to die before I had to face it. Now? God, that seems laughable. Life is so good. Not always, of course, not every day, but overall, life is so fucking good. Things change & life moves forward & we become new, different - but somewhere in there, too, we're still just us. Older versions of the same people we've always been inside, finding ourselves & working it out & trying our damndest.

I am not afraid to be 33. I think of my friends who didn't make it here, of Dave & Elissa & Zach, & I am not afraid to turn 33 or 35 or 40 or 60 or 100. I am not afraid to grow old, to feel like an adult, to be someone's wife & mother & grandmother, to be a grown-ass woman who pays my bills & goes to bed early but still laughs until she cries with the same best friend she's had since she was 9 years old.

I feel lucky as hell to have today, to hope for tomorrow, & to dream of a whole, big, beautiful life, for however long I've got it. Happy almost-birthday to me - & here's to many more.
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