Today, I turn 30.

I’ve dreaded this day for the 365 that came before it. I mourned the loss of my “youth,” regretted not doing this or that sooner so I would be in a different place today. I would have more, I would have done more, I would be more put together as a person.

Today, I turn 30.

This is the second week of graduate school. I’m a student again. Creaky, unused muscles are ever so sloooowly grinding back into place, moving from gear to gear, remembering how to do this again. My backpack weighs more now than it ever has, and I have a bachelor’s degree in literature. Four novels a week, sometimes plus a textbook. I am at once terrified and thrilled. Terrified, because what if I’m not as good as I used to be. What if I can’t meet my own standards of education? What if I can’t make the grades to which I’ve become accustom? What if I actually have to study? The answers are simple: You are. You probably won’t. Bs ARE acceptable; Cs are not. You will, and that’s okay. It’s all okay. I don’t NEED to graduate with honors again. I’ve done that twice. I’ve proven I’m intelligent. I just need this final degree. And a B is okay. Thrilled because I’m done waiting. I’m finished putting off. I’m DOING something about this land of limbo in which I find myself: smart and experienced enough to do the work, but without the proper piece of paper stating both of these things accompanied by a stamp of approval from the ALA. And in two years I shall be in limbo no more.

Today I turn 30.

This weekend my dear and perfect adorable husband treated me to the best birthday I’ve ever had. We stated at the Ritz-Carlton Washington D.C. We had our car valet parked and our bags delivered to our room. We walked the National Mall. We watched Bo Obama take a potty break. We were heckled in front of the White House by protestors with whom we did not agree. We took oodles of pictures. We discovered The Smithsonian is free and also amazing. We asked a question about dinner and ended up with reservations and hand-delivered conformation and directions. We ate dinner at the Palm and ordered the biggest steak on the menu. We had the most delectable slice of cheesecake drizzled in the most amazing raspberry compote I’ve ever tasted. We were waited on by a guy named Chuck who just so happens to be the best waiter in the history of waiters. We slept in the plushest bed with huge feather pillows. We awoke to room service laid out for us including a set of poached eggs cooked to perfection (according to Dave). We then went shopping at the only Vera Bradley Outlet Store in four states. We drove home through north and central Virginia, inadvertently crossing off a bucket list item by stopping in Tightsqeeze, VA for gas. Just to clarify, the bucket list item was visiting Tightsqueeze, VA, not necessarily stopping for gas.

Today I turn 30.

And I’ve come to realize that my twenties, while important, were hard. Really hard. I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted. I endured significant loss and betrayal. I made big, ugly mistakes. I leapt, then looked. I was going to say “while important, were really hard and not that great,” and then stopped myself. My twenties were awesome, in the traditional sense. I learned so much about myself. I became myself. I stopped fighting myself, and started loving myself. I came to understand what I want and need in this world. I let go of my silly standards. I was absolutely broke for a majority of the decade, mostly through all fault of my own. I searched my soul over and over again, each time redefining myself a little more. And yes, I meant to say “redefining” and not “refining.” I was an amalgam of metaphors: forged like hot steel, extruded into and out of various molds like plaster, chipped and cracked  like marble, battered and polished sea glass. I was all of it. I learned to be the grown-up. I learned when I needed someone else to be the grownup. I learned that both things are okay. I came to terms with my shortcomings as a person and embraced them. I came to terms with my body and now accept it for what it is: flawed and beautiful. I will always have two digits in my pants size, always have at least one X in my shirt size, and will never really know my dress size. And each of those things are exactly as they are meant to be. I needed my twenties to happen exactly the way they did. I needed each and every mistake I made. Without the last 120 months, I wouldn’t have the rich and fulfilling life and loves I have now. I wouldn’t have Ashley and Joe, Claire and Jordan, Scott and Cheryl, Eric and Callie, Becca and Mat, Devin and Valerie, Greg, Adam, or Bryan. I wouldn’t have Daisy, Finn, or Dinah (I would probably still have Oliver). I wouldn’t have Dave. And I need Dave.

Today I turn 30.

This has always started the new year for me. Yeah, sometimes I claim my resolutions on January 1st, but I always wait until January 20th to start them. I make plans for the new year on New Year’s Day, but I implement them on my birthday. I don’t reflect on what I want my year to look like until tomorrow.

Today I turn 30

And I am still rocking blue hair. I’m still rocking. I watch cartoons. I play video games. I make fart jokes. I bought a hoodie as a souvenir in DC, and I’m going to rock that too. I wear blue jeans because they are comfortable. I collect t-shirts because I like them. I turn up The Beastie Boys too loud in the car. There are no rules saying that I must box these things away or give them up, and if there are, I’m breaking them. My twenties were important and necessary, and now they are over. I am what I am, where I am, and who I am right now because of the decisions I did and did not make. The world is not leaving me behind, and I will not measure my life by the successes of other people. This year, I’m prioritizing, and no longer seeking out instant and fleeting gratification in a misguided attempt to keep up. This year, I’m taking advantage of my location and circumstances, and doing the things I want to do, not just the things I can do. This year, I’m going to get to know my husband better. This year, we’re embracing our freedom. And before this year is over, we’re gonna make something really amazing together.

Today I turn 30.

And that’s okay.

It’s more than okay.

Today I turn 30.

And I’m going to rock the fuck out of it.


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