Lately, it seems that every time I'm asked how old I am, I find myself pausing for a full few seconds before answering. Am I thirty-two? Thirty-three? Wait, no, I'm going to be thirty-three. Right? No. That doesn't sound right. HOW OLD AM I? Rather than the years standing straight and upright, each one with its own identity, they seem to blur messily, one into the other, until it's a swamp of early-thirties madness that I have to high-step my way through. Generally, the debate continues in my head until I finally do a quick bout of math and come to a conclusion, all the while the person who politely asked the question stares back at me, blank-faced, because they really didn't care about the answer in the first place. This year I've decided that I'm going to write down my age on a piece of paper that I can keep in my wallet for a quick reference. When in doubt, I'll pull it out and remind myself how young I am. Thirty-three. Still on the downside of thirty-five. Whew.
In preparation for my age change, I've spent the past few days excavating my brain, hoping to recall all of the lovely parts that emerge when one lives a full thirty-three years. It's birthday season around here, and while historically I'm not the best at celebrating, I'm practicing my skills and planning to party like it's at least 2003. In years past, I've spent too much time lamenting the lack of milestones in my life (no marriage, no babies, no mortgage, and no big-bucks job) rather than focusing on what I do have (a wonderful partner in crime, friends with the sweetest families, a lovely little rental house, and enough money to pay my bills). I think it's probably this precocious lack of milestones that has helped merge the past several years into one giant swampy pile. When you don't have wedding anniversaries and children's birthday parties and major tax breaks to mark your years, it's a lot easier to convince yourself you are younger than you are. I think I'm doing a pretty great job so far.
Here's some evidence: in the past twelve months, I've had the opportunity to see some amazing things and travel to lovely (and not-so-lovely) places - because I can. I've loved on my friend's precious babies, made messes, and then gone home to a clean and quiet house- because I can. I've eaten delicious food, drank too much wine, and then slept in- because I can. I've tried new hobbies (barre!) and taken risks (writing submissions!) and made mistakes (too many to count!) - because I can. And I've experimented with new diets, taken in some fantastic live music, and went on some off-the-grid adventures, because, you guessed it, I CAN. I've learned to embrace this swampy season of life, even if I can't remember exactly how old I am in it. I don't doubt that my peers are still living their own adventures, milestones intact, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to try things a bit differently. Life doesn't always feel how we think it should or take the route that's most logical, but, most of the time, I believe it spits us out in the best kind of way. So, here I am. And I'm going to keep moving forward (high-stepping, of course) until I end up exactly where I'm supposed to be. Happy birthday to me, indeed.