Friday, November 12, 2010

{on turning 30}

I'm 30 years and 4 days old young old.

So far, it feels a lot like writing checks on January 1st of a brand new decade. Date: January 1, 200... oh crap, new check. Is 2010 really here? It really exists? Do people even write checks anymore?

Not that anyone is really in the habit of asking me how old I am, but if someone should dare to ask {really, you shouldn't} I know that "twent.." will start to roll of my tongue before I train my mouth to accustom itself to starting that answer with "thirty" for the next ten years. Now that I think about it, the last time someone asked me how old I was, other than a doctor or other medical professional, was a woman in line with me at the downtown Rite Aid sometime in the summer of 2009. I was obviously pregnant with Connor, and was waiting to pay for my daily candy fix. The woman in front of me asked when I was due {normal}, whether I was having a boy or girl {normal}, then told me "it's so brave of you to have a child in your forties! how old are you?" {NOT NORMAL}. I choked a little, turned bright red, and mumbled something along the lines of "lady, I'm 28!!" To which she actually replied {REALLY NOT NORMAL} "oh, you look like you are in your forties. or maybe late thirties." My only choice here is to assume that this woman was either (a) completely out of her mind; (b) blind; (c) on some hard drugs; or (d) all of the above. The alternative is just too soul-crushing.

To celebrate the big 3-0 this year, I took the day off work {yay} and spent the day engaging in Thirty Random Acts of Kindness. Except that I sort of lost track of my list, and cannot entirely verify that I did thirty things precisely, but that's probably beside the point anyhow. {except that when I think about the fact that I was trying to do thirty things on my thirtieth birthday... thirty seems to be the entire point. oh well}. Among other things, I put Giant Eagle gift cards on car windshields, left other cars with notes wishing them a wonderful day, baked brownies for our postman, left a thank you note for the garbage men, taped 2 dollars to a vending machine, gave the YMCA babysitting girls batteries and a thank-you note, returned stray shopping carts in a Target parking lot, visited my grandma and brought her strawberry filled cookies. I did some things on my list more than once, but never made it to a few other things I'd planned out. By the end of the day, I realized that I'll probably never have time to do thirty random kindnesses again in a day, but I'll almost always have time to do one-- so I'm hanging on to the unchecked-items on my list, and doing them one by one each day.

In my twenies, I wore a lot of different hats & lived a lot of different lives.

At 20, I was a mostly-single college student. At 21, I triumphantly graduated summa cum laude and phi beta kappa from a school that had originally sent me a rejection letter, and left home for my Peace Corps assignment in Togo. I spent every day of my 22nd and 23rd years on the continent of Africa, promoting girls' education, tearing my hair out with frustration, meeting the best friends of my life, and sleeping every night from 7 pm til dawn. When I was 24, I came home, moved to Chicago, fell in love with Shawn, moved to New York City, and started law school. At 25, I was engaged, and was a new bride at 26. When I was 27, I graduated from law school, moved back to Pittsburgh with Shawn, passed the bar exam, and started practicing as a litigator at a large firm. At 28, I got pregnant, bought a 99 year old house, gutted and remodeled a large portion of the house, and had my first baby. At 29, I reveled in my role as a new mother, stumbled through the juggling excercise of work-life balance, and got pregnant for a second time.

In my thirties, I'm looking forward to putting down deeper roots, picking out the few hats I like best, and wearing the hell out of them. More time with Shawn, more babies, more making our house into a home. Now that I'm 30 I don't feel particularly, or suddenly, wise, but my twenties have taught me some good lessons and I'm at least the wiser for having run that crazy gauntlet.

And at the very least, I know enough not to ask any Rite Aid customers for their age.

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