So I turned 30 this year.
It was a lovely day. I slept in, kissed an apple-cheeked baby, ate good food, and spent the evening with friends. But after sleeping in, and before holding my best friend’s beautiful daughter, I walked out to my front porch with a cup of coffee, sat down to greet the morning rain, and I cried.
My tears confused me, because as far as I can tell, I’m not sad about getting older. I greet my thirties with mostly enthusiasm, knowing many undiscovered things await me in the next decade. But as the dawn of my life breaks to late-morning sunshine, I’m left to wonder: as new opportunities open up, which opportunities are closing to me?
Never again will I have the opportunity to be fascinated by fireflies, to turn cartwheels without turning my stomach, to live unconsciously in wonder of the world around me.
Childhood used to feel near at hand. Now it is more of a feeling than a memory.
That morning on the porch, I made a mental list of Things I Should Have By Now–now that I’ve breached the cusp of that 3-0 barrier. When I was 20, for example, I assumed that at 30, my life would have all the benefits of being A Real Adult. Of course I would have a husband, a house, a garden, perhaps even an apple-cheeked baby of my own.
But I don’t have any of those things. My life looks nothing like I would have expected it to at 20. I have a Master in Divinity and a churchy career. I rent a two-bedroom apartment. I hardly ever drink martinis (and they’re never dirty). But I do have a sweetly loving partner, a bright blue front porch, and a very cranky, very hilarious cat.
The last decade of my life I have lived in Quito and New York City, and I have visited Barcelona, Hong Kong, and Tromso. I have lived accomplishments and blunders, awkward encounters and transcendent moments. Life has provided me with a dramatic and privileged opportunity to glean all I possibly can from this world. How could I be disappointed by all that I have learned and experienced?
And yet, how could I not feel grief at the conclusion of such a decade of opulent discovery and reckless joy?
I do not fear the future, but I do mourn the loss of the present, of each moment as it passes. It skirts our grasp as we hold it.
(Perhaps the reason we have so much trouble staying in the present is because it is always leaving us, and because it takes so long to arrive.)
At the center of realizing that I am now 30 is the understanding that I will never be 12 again. And even though I am happy, sometimes all I want is to stare into the belly of a firefly and have no idea how it works, or how any of it works, and to be captured by the wonder of life
without consciously knowing that is it already passing me by.
there is not. enough. time. (is it really june 7? REALLY? really now.)
a visual summary of what’s been up with me in the past month:
We went back to New York. I stalked my old seminary (did any of you see me there? I was being shy. I’m sorry) and marveled that it’s been A YEAR since graduating. (not. enough. TIME!) We ate the $26 burger (not as good as expected), ate again the shake shack burgers (perhaps better than remembered?), walked old haunts, shadowed our former lives, reminisced. It felt familiar, comfortable, sweet, easy. The trip eased my fears about our having left New York a year ago: it’s still there, and still waiting for us.
I’ve started taking aerial arts (read: circus arts) classes, a four-week session in May-June, which has elicited interesting comments from everyone in my life from my boyfriend to my boss. Mostly people tend to be worried for my safety, and I can’t say I blame them… I’m not among the most graceful of people. But, in only two weeks, I’m already feeling tremendously stronger, and it’s jump-started new life into my running routine! Ever finding new projects, I’ve sketched out a little running plan for the next few months. We’ll see how that goes… we all know that I haven’t started anything even with worms yet.
I’ve quit coffee! Or, maybe I should say: I’ve started tea! For the past few years, I’ve only been able to drink coffee when laden with sugar, cream–anything to get that golden caffeine into my veins. Now, I’m not saying I won’t refuse a nice creamy cold press or dark mocha latte if offered, but the truth is, I’ve been consuming more cream than I think is healthy for one person. So I’m making my own iced tea, and I’m liking it.
Lastly, perhaps the main reason I’ve been neglecting this fair space more than usual is that I’ve been reading, one of the goals that I’ve set forth for myself. From Lolita to the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, I’ve been reading a lot and enjoying it immensely. It’s a weird reaction that in reading more, which I’ve been doing in hopes of encouraging myself to write, I’m actually writing quite less. I’ll have to figure out a way to balance those two tensions.
Some more reflections, and a follow-up to some projects, to be posted soon!