Friday, July 06, 2007


now that i’ve finally crossed the threshold to become a true thirtysomething instead of just a thirty, i got exactly the push i needed to jump off the fence and arrive at the soft landing and happy acceptance awaiting me below. not that i could have hopped the fence to run back into my twenties. and not that i would have wanted to.

unlike last year when i found myself in a panic over the approach of this new decade — the textbook type of panic i’ve seen countless friends go through as well — this year there was no turmoil, no soppy lamentations, crazy chronicles or paralyzing thoughts of “oh shit, what the fuck am i doing with my life?”

this year, i felt happy on my birthday. this year, i knew conclusively that the only thing i could do with my life was to live it. this year, i woke up on the tuesday that was my birthday and went to work as usual, happy to have my career in copy editing. i received cards from a few thoughtful coworkers, with one even making me lemon bars. the evening i passed with my parents, eating a nice meal at fancy Maggiano’s. and of course nighttime i spent with my puppies, their wagging tails and smiling eyes confirming the suspicion i carried with me throughout the day — that i had much to be thankful for on this birthday.

that night, i leashed up the pups for a long walk in the twilight. the neighborhood looked lovelier than usual, peppered as it was with bougainvillea in full bloom, still bright by the moonlight. the weather was perfectly temperate, air crisp. big inhales and exhales.

as we walked, the reflections of the past ten began to roll in — the traumas and dramas, whether real or imagined; the joys, hopes, sorrows, fears and sensations; the boyfriends and broken hearts; the back surgery and resultant scar; the delirium of new love and anguish when he cheated; the people i thought i’d always know but haven’t spoken to in ages; the job jumping; the moving once a year; the summer traveling through europe; the inadequacies and self-doubts; the opportunities for redemption; angela’s suicide; the wild time in san francisco; the drugs and all-night parties; the youthful delusions, amateur epiphanies and yearly paradigm shifts.

they rolled in like a flood. the bad, the good, the ugly. those shiny moments that defined my twenties, that once seemed so vivid and relentlessly self-important, the way they latched onto me like leeches. but now, finally, after years of agonizing over how i could have done everything i’ve ever done better than the way i did it, none of it seemed to matter anymore.

it was really past — distant, remote, stripped of its gravity and put into perspective. finally, i had let it go. finally, i had moved the fuck on. and damn, it felt good. i felt relieved, lighter, brighter, almost tingly as i strolled the boulevard with my pups wondering what the hell was put in my drink during dinner to make me so damn clear-headed. but here it was, very clear indeed, that the past was just that: irrelevant and not worth agonizing over.

as someone who is an agonizer, ruminator extraordinaire, capable of psychoanalyzing everything within an inch of its existence, this was huge. and while i don’t expect to ever rewire myself out of that (exhausting) habit, i needed to throw out the old to make some room for the lifetime of stress that’s surely ahead of me. and just like that, with a long walk and a bit of mental abracadabra, the old stuff had gone.

it was the oddest, most effortless catharsis known to humankind. a velvet revolution, with ten years worth of baggage tossed out of my psyche like a tacky prom dress that’s crowding the closet. it made me feel so super free and invincible that making senseless analogies about prom dresses is suddenly a-ok. i’m feeling that fucking good.

and now, a week into being 31 — thirty-fun! — i’m still feeling pretty fucking good.

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