Holy shit. I’m 31.
I put so much energy into turning 30 last year, into leaving my twenties behind and entering this new phase and all that comes with it, that I forgot there would be life after. Lots of life, if I’m lucky. But yes. After 30 comes 31 and the official start of “the thirties.” Turns out, it’s a whole decade, not just a year.
I’ve been so focused on reaching the recent goals I set for myself that I kind of forgot about this whole birthday thing that was approaching. Last week I bought a train ticket to Portland for the weekend before the big day, made dinner reservations for Mr. W and me, and invited some friends to stop by a bar for happy hour if they felt up to it. Low-key was the theme, and the plan. I didn’t want to put anyone out or drag them anywhere they didn’t want to be.
But sometimes the people who love you know exactly what you need even when you don’t. When I arrived in Portland, G and Sister Wife made it clear that a night out was in order, and right away I went from “taking it easy mode” to “Party in the USA” mode. G took me on a shopping spree at the beauty supply store in Lake Oswego (buying expensive shampoo and nail polish with a stylist’s discount is unbelievably awesome) before giving me shiny new highlights and layers for free.
We got ready, and I crammed my curves into one of G’s tops that showed the kind of cleavage I only show in Vegas. At first, I was a little uncomfortable—when you’re no longer used to certain parts hanging out and they suddenly are, it’s a bit unsettling. But when we got to our dinner location and I climbed the stairs to use the restroom, I found myself falling right back into my mid-twenties strut. And when I caught a table full of dudes checking me out, I thought, Screw it. No more feeling bad. After all, I’m well aware that things like that have an expiration date. Mine will come eventually, and when it does, I’ll be glad I showed the cleavage while I could.
After dinner G and I went to a swanky martini bar. I couldn’t resist the part of the menu that was named after the seven deadly sins. I decided on a Lust martini, which was chock full of tequila and wild decisions. It couldn’t have been more perfect, as the next part of our night took us to Silverado’s… a gay male strip club. We were soon joined by Sister Wife, who treated us to jello shots and more tequila.
It was the best night ever. I laughed. I drank, but not too much. I talked to men who refreshingly had no interest in sleeping with me. I ogled males in their underwear. I had dollar bills thrown at me by a sassy gay, which I used to buy a round of drinks. And I was treated to the silliest, most hilarious lap dance ever, from a dancer who couldn’t believe I was about to turn “28.” I may have lied about my age a bit, too… because my expiration date for doing that will come eventually as well.
And during my ride back to Seattle as I was trying to balance my bag that was full of beauty products and gifts from my Sister Wife, it occurred to me that, for me, 31 means finally having a group of friends that I feel comfortable with… people that I genuinely love, who love me, who are happy for me when I succeed and sad when I don’t, and people that are truly worth investing my time and energy on.
I’ve got friends from high school who have known me since the awkward, frizzy, perpetually pimply years. I’ve got friends from my years in Idaho who I never imagined would make such an effort to stay in touch with me. And I’ve got some truly incredible friends here in Seattle, friends I can’t even believe weren’t part of my life two years ago. From the fiercely intelligent feminist vegan to the comedic Coug who always passes out on my couch to my self-proclaimed little sister who is battling every demon in her life like it’s nothing and every other quirky pal in between, I have quite a collection of beautifully eclectic souls here I wouldn’t trade for anything.
When I turned 30, I was so worried about suddenly losing my youth that I ran out and did a pin-up photo shoot to try and capture it. I worked out like crazy and moisturized nightly. This year, I’m much more focused on getting where I want to be in my professional life and reaching my goals. Some pounds have crept on and some lines on my face have deepened, but hell, I’m still me. I’m at a place in my life where I can be authentically me without worrying about what others think. That vast collection of friends from all parts of my life, as different as they all are, accept the authentic me. That’s priceless, and it’s worth more than what’s on the surface.
I’m totally going to keep moisturizing at night, though.
And somehow, before I went through the craziness of my twenties and all the changes, I had enough sense to hold on to the one man who has loved me through every single phase, the man who “loves the troubled soul” in me. We’re both completely different people than we were when we met…and different than when we got married, even different than before we took the road trip that changed everything.
With every change, our love grows stronger. I have no idea how I got so lucky, but I can tell this man things that anyone else in the world would think are completely crazy, and he doesn’t. It’s not always perfect or even easy, but I don’t regret one minute of loving him. With every birthday I reflect on all the birthdays that have come before, how much I’ve changed, and how he not only loves me from one to the next, but still looks at me with the same passion he always has. Other women can keep their giant diamonds, their mansions and their extravagant lives. I will keep the man who works hard so I can have the best possible apartment in the city that I love, the man who does the dishes every day, who made me an “emergency kit” to keep with me at all times, who cleans without me asking and tells me every single day how much I mean to him.
So there is life after 30. Lots of it, hopefully. Priorities shift, and that’s just fine. Friends come and go. Jobs comes and go. But each one teaches you things, if you let it, and leaves you feeling just a little different than you were before. You’re left with learned lessons, heightened confidence, experience, and, if you’re as lucky as I am, the best people in the entire world around you.
Apparently, 31 is a pretty damn good place to be.
|Capturing my youth, the weekend before I turned 30.|