Monday, August 22, 2011

The End of an Era

Here I sit on a Monday night, procrastinating some paperwork & savoring my last drops of Hawaiian Punch, made all the more tasty for the fact that I'm drinking it through a neon yellow bendy straw, left over from a particularly fantastic 80's-themed baby shower Friday night. There's more than procrastination going on here, though. I'm thinky. Melancholy, even - and not just from a reawakened desire to bring side ponytails back into fashion. Because in the past few key-tapping minutes, I've come to the realization that, like the end of spandex, rolled jeans, & boomboxes the size of a Volkswagen, a major chapter of my life is about to come to an end. I'm about to wind down my second decade. I'm on a 28-minute countdown until my 30th birthday, & I can already hear it tapping at the door.

It's a funny thing, turning 30. I used to joke about staying 29 forever, although to be fair, it was all in vanity - entirely for the reaction I'd get. In the past year, whenever age came up, I'd casually mention that I was pushing 30, bemoaning my age, in the same sort of self-depricating manner in which I used to whine about how fat I was when I was 21 & in my fighting prime. The truth was that I wanted to hear the reassurance of, "Oh, you could pull it off! I would have thought you were 25!" & the, "You look too young to be almost 30!" Twice in the past year, I've been mistaken for a teenager - by actual teenagers. Perhaps I like the flattery - although to be honest, I think it's my frequently bad skin & the nose ring that give people the perception that I'm younger than I am. In light of that consideration, perhaps it's a dubious honor.

13 minutes left.

Perhaps I'm a little vain about my complete lack of grey hair & my ability to pass for ten years younger. But focusing on that is empty. I haven't done anything to accomplish them. Ultimately, focusing on the temporal is a smokescreen for the fact that I have a faltering pause inside me, an uncertainty that, as I am about to celebrate three decades on this earth, that I've accomplished enough to be worthy of those years. Enough to fill the space of 30 years. To tell the stories of the people I've known, loved, & lost in 30 years. Have they been merely a placeholder for better years to come? The list of what I've accomplished to make this world a better place seems short, at best.

9 minutes left.

I never got around to writing or tackling a "30 before 30" list, but I wonder, if I had, what would be on it? Get married, have children, buy a house? Check. Find a job I love, make great friends, see new places? Check.

8 minutes left.

But yet ... what about the things I haven't done? Get a Master's Degree, write a book, fit back into my freshman year jeans? I'd like to think that they've been temporarily postponed by the things that weren't planned out years ago: move 4 times in 6 years, begin homeschooling my children, get involved in the leadership of a MOPS group.

2 minutes left.

To be fair, I have gobs & gobs of time to accomplish all of those things, & more. But I guess I thought that at 30, I had to have it all figured out. Have a plan, a schedule, an idea of when all of these landmark things would be happening. And as I'm standing awkwardly at the threshhold, I feel a bit like an understudy for the part of a grownup, being pushed onto the stage before I know all of my lines.

12:15 am, August 23rd.

And it's here. Actually, it's past. I missed the moment altogether because I wandered off to get a bowl of birthday cake ice cream (Let's revisit the part about fitting back into my freshman year pants, eh?). That wasn't so bad. I suppose. I still feel unprepared. Still feel like I have a lot of high expectations to live up to - of my own making. Still feel a little melancholy. But the ice cream softened the blow, I'm sure.

Anyway, since the first thing on my yet unwritten "40 Before 40" list should be to go to bed at a decent hour, I'm going to call it quits here. Thanks, twenties. You were good to me, & it was nice knowing you. Put in a good word for me with my thirties. 'Night, all.

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