“How old are you, 19?” my retired Navy vet landlord asks from below the balcony that’s barely big enough for two lawn chairs and an ash tray.
I followed my boyfriend out of boredom more than wanting fresh air (because it’s not fresh – it’s smoky and gross) and because I love the face he makes when he gets annoyed that I’m following him around the house. In my defense, I only follow him when I’m mid conversation – even if I’m the only one really holding the conversation and he’s paying more attention to his damn smart phone than my ramblings.
“I wish,” I shout down to Dean who is sporting a flannel shirt. He always wears flannel, which always makes me think of the men in the small Midwest town I still call home. I hardly ever see men in flannel in San Diego; besides it being completely out of style it’s never really cold enough for it. I suppose the thread barren flannel with specks of paint and tiny tears is cool enough on this unseasonably cool San Diego day.
“She’s thirty,” Brent adds, “time to turn her in for a younger model.”
I smile and even though I’ve heard his joke a million times it always makes me smile. “I remember turning 19,” I say more to myself than Brent. “That was a fun year. I was a freshman in college and had everything to look forward to in life.” I sigh perhaps a bit overly dramatic.
“Really, you’d be 19 again?” Brent asks with a look of disbelief to clash with my nostalgic daydreaming.
“In a heartbeat. Being 30 already sucks.” I hadn’t looked forward to having my big day on a Monday, but tried to stay positive during my killer workout and on my way to work. After about an hour I got an email about a meeting in 30 minutes where we were told to go home because we lost funding (I’m a DoD contractor) and log it on our time sheets as vacation time (so much for going home or anywhere far for the holidays – sorry Mom). Trying to stay positive and enjoy the day with Brent who is currently out of work as well, I left not telling anyone it was my birthday.
After Brent finishes his cigarette he goes back in and Dean goes back to whatever it was he was doing in the garage below. I am left on the smoky porch to reflect on being 30.
It’s not like me to not want to celebrate a birthday. I feel like its god’s little holiday to you, a day when the whole world should revolve around you. I have a little birthday tradition that I have done since I was probably 16. I always take my journal and write an entry reflecting on everything that happened in the last year. It’s like an end of the year Time magazine about only me. I had the whole day to do this before going over to my old apartment to have dinner with Jill, Rachael and Jackson (Rach’s dog who really does deserve to be mentioned because he sang to me – well close enough), but I didn’t. The thought of reflecting on the past year and trying to look forward to the future while not knowing about what was going on with work was just unbearable. My year started in DC. I was assisting in a wall-to-wall inventory for the reserve unit I was in and had dinner with two very dear friends, one of which helped me survive the Marines. I can’t think of anything truly remarkable that happened in the 365 + days after that. I moved in with Brent, I suppose that’s something. I started my new career as a civilian – which clearly is going great! (Please note the sarcasm if you are one of my coworkers), I spent a week in the Colorado Rockies with people I had never met before we left the Red Lion hotel on an Outward Bound bus for a week in the wilderness, but will now forever be a part of my life in ways they probably will never even know. What else? I finished the Insanity work out program, followed by Asylum, followed by Insanity/Asylum hybrid, followed by death and I’m still recovering from that last phase. I was in a wedding in NYC and it always seems notable when I make it to the city. I retaught myself to sew – well sorta – I make awesome sock monkeys and super hero capes. When I think about it 29 will go down as a rather bland year. Nothing truly life altering happened – good or bad. I didn’t graduate from anything or make some big promotion. Is this life now? Just humdrum, ordinary daily life with everyone I know popping out babies? I can almost mark the years by things I miss nowadays rather than things I experience myself – my little sister’s senior state fair marching band competition, my nephews first words, a wedding here, a recital there. As I get older I feel the distance from my family a little more each year. I suppose the excitement of travel and school and this and that kept me preoccupied before and now my life has settled into a rather dull, but comfortable existence. I always get homesick this time of year when I can’t make it home for the annual Tecumseh Lodge Labor Day Powwow followed by the harvest and chilly Indiana fall days. We actually have retarded weather in that our summer doesn’t really start until mid-August. Oh don’t worry, this strange longing for harvest moons and Indian summers will pass in January when the Midwest is snowed in for days at a time and it’s still warm enough to go to the beach in the afternoon. I always get a phone call from my mother on my birthday going over the events of my birth and how much she misses me on this particular day of the year. I think I’m a little extra homesick on my birthday every year.
I remember my very dear friend, Deb, turning 30 a few years ago. We have been friends for about 8 years now so it seemed like quite the milestone in both of our lives. I called her to wish her a happy birthday and she said, “It’s weird, I’m ending a decade. I’m ending my twenties …” then went on to highlight all the things that had happened in the past ten years. We talked about our crazy adventures and she summed it up sounding more like Carrie’s narration at the end of a Sex in the City episode than our normal ramblings. A decade. No longer twenty something. Old. Responsible. Boring. That’s how I feel tonight and you know how I know I’m no longer twenty something – it doesn’t bother me a bit to be what I used to think would be life endingly boring. The past few days I’ve thought about the friends I’ve made in the past ten years, the celebrations, sorrows, the things I missed and the things I missed them for. Thirty, AKA: old enough to know better and no longer young enough to do it anyways. After worrying about jobs and finances the past few days I’m glad I took the time to sit here and think about all the places I’ve gone, people I’ve loved, things I miss and of course everything I have to look forward to in the next decade. Well, here’s to being 30 and knowing that if it’s off to this much of a rocky start things can only get better, right?