Friday, February 3, 2012

The one where I turn 30

The moment I thought I made peace with turning 30 came, like much of my twenties, in an unexpected way. Having thought about the impending end of my youth since my 29th birthday last year, I imagined a sudden moment of clarity when I would let go of all my reservations about getting older, which would magically prevent me from ever aging and allow me to reach every goal I ever set, growing my bank account in the process.

Instead, I was in a no-frills sushi joint on Queen Anne hill sharing a beer with one of my oldest friends. This was no ordinary day. For one, I do not drink beer. The friend, P, lives in Washington DC. Her unplanned but well-loved infant daughter was back at the house where they were staying receiving a bath from P’s unexpected (and quite gorgeous) boyfriend. Pretty much nothing about the evening was normal.

“Tell me about 30,” I said cautiously as I sipped the beer and watched my unagi being  rolled in rice.

P explained that, yes, it was a hard birthday and yes, you do spend a little time thinking about your lost youth and all you wanted to accomplish and haven’t. But, she asked me, would I really even want to be 22 again, anyway?

As soon as she asked me, I realized that no, I don’t. I don’t want to go back and re-live my twenties because frankly, I’m exhausted. All the crappy job interviews, the crappy jobs, the trying desperately to sell myself to potential employers and clients and bank managers convincing them that yes, I can do this job or have that loan or write that piece despite my age. The getting stabbed in the back time and time again because I didn’t trust my gut. The relationship issues, the body image issues, the plethora of personal issues. No, thank you. I’m exhausted and I’m ready for a decade where I can just be me.

So there it was, or so I thought. I made my peace with it. We finished the beer, went back to the baby and the boyfriend and enjoyed our feast. And then the actual last week of my twenties hit and it was the worst week I’d had in a long time.

Here’s a downer of a fact in my normally positive blog: my twenties started out like shit, and they basically ended like shit too. Quite frankly, I’m pretty much as lost at 30 as I was at 20. I feel confused, depressed, like I’m living my life in a fog. I haven’t felt this shitty about myself or my life since I was in high school, and that’s saying a lot.

The good news is that in between the decade’s shitty beginnings and their shitty endings is that I had nearly a decade of pure awesome sandwiched in between. And that is one of the things I’m choosing to dwell on. The lessons were hard, and unfortunately I’m still paying for them at 30. But there were a lot of beautiful, amazing, wonderful and hilarious moments and I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade any of the bad for one precious moment of the good.

I spent the second to the last day of my twenties bawling my eyes out and feeling like a loser. I had plans to spend the weekend alone in a lodge in Western Washington’s wine country, shut away from the world on a romantic getaway we both needed. I had to cancel because I’ve been fighting a cold for what seems like a year and quite frankly I really don’t have the cash right now. That, among a lot of other stupid shit led to me feeling like a loser. I had a meltdown. It wasn’t pretty. 

Then came the unexpected, unanticipated and overwhelming displays of love. I went to work on Friday and my co-workers had decorated a table with tasty treats. From the freshly baked cupcakes to the frosted animal cookies to the plate of strawberries, everything was pink, because they know I love pink. One of the copy leads brought me flowers. My best friend showed up at lunch with balloons and gifts, also pink. And to top it off, one of my co-workers drew me an awesome sign and another one left pink tinted chapsticks and cupcake body spray on my desk.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never worked a 9 to 5 office job before, but I have never been spoiled like that by people who don’t owe me a damn thing but to co-exist with me peacefully for 40 + hours a week. And it didn’t end there. After work I attended the company’s birthday party (that’s right, I share a birthday with my company!) where I was treated to endless compliments and entirely too many drink tickets. Then Mr. W picked me up, took me to dinner and treated me to a pep talk I desperately needed. I cried that night, too, but not out of sadness. I cried out of gratitude.

The spoiling continued on Saturday. I received three more bouquets of flowers. My dining room table looks like a hospital room right now. I got cards, texts and phone calls and I got over 100 posts on my Facebook wall. Instead of being cooped up in a lodge, I explored more of my beautiful city including a celebration of the Chinese new year. I drank alcohol out of a boot with another awesome co-worker. And my night ended with one of the best meals I have ever eaten in my entire life, hands down, and a sexy and beautiful burlesque show.

My unplanned “winging it” birthday turned out to be far better than the plans I’d made and cost me half the money I would’ve spent feeling sorry for myself isolated from the world. And this weekend some of my best friends are flying in or driving over the pass for a belated birthday party, spending their hard-earned money and time just to see me.

This leads me to the first lesson of my thirties: this time, I am not alone. The last time I was lost, depressed and confused, I felt that I was. I didn’t have anyone I trusted enough to confide in or to ask for help. I worked my ass off alone and I pulled myself out of it, made a lot of changes, and spent the better part of a decade truly trying to be a good person, a good friend and eventually a good wife.

Apparently it paid off. You don’t get shown the level of love that I was shown unless you’re doing something right. The people in my life have no idea how much they saved me last weekend, and how much they showed me that they care and therefore I must be worth caring about. Just like before, I’m going to face my demons and battle this slump I’m in, but this time I’m going to do it in the city I love with the man I love and a fuckton of incredible people by my side. Suddenly, 30 seems like no big deal.


sherryrose said...

that last paragraph is SO TRUE. you have people that love you and treat you that way because you deserve it and are an AMAZING woman!you have done so many things right and have been so amazing to so many people it's about time it started coming back to you. 30 will just keep getting better for you!

Wearmanyhats said...

Every decade brings its own rewards and hassles. I am glad you are surrounded by people who love and care for you as they do, who have taken the time to try to make you happy. I think sometimes we wait for something really big to happen in our lives, when the journey really is the most important part! Each time you enter a new decade, you may do these self assessments, change some things and carry on. And each time it will get better. I can see that with you. One thing I think is kind of cool....look how many friends you've made around the world who think so highly of you. What treasure you have! What wealth beyond measure. Big hugs. And 40 is pretty cool, too...from someone knocking on 50's door.

Annie said...

What a terrific post. I started out somewhat downtrodden but then you found every last positive and highlighted it. I think that's what people do when they hit a landmark birthday. They always think they should be somewhere else...higher up the ladder of life, maybe even spending time with other people...and then they notice that the people around them are awesome and love them for exactly who they are. My 40th birthday "friends" delivered 40 black balloons to my new job. A cute little carrier attached them to my wrist and sang me a zippy birthday jingle. I could have cried on the spot. Instead, I took those ominous balloons outside and let them fly. That was my signal to do the same. Life gets better and better. Oh sure, you have to let go of some belief that seem important, but in the big scale of things only get in the way of your real life. Happy birthday a little late!

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