Editor’s Note: Nostalgia and some angst ahead. Proceed with caution.
Underneath all the fun of birthday month shenanigans is the true story that I’m another year older. I always use my birthday as a great time to look back, reflect, make plans, get excited, measure up, compare needlessly, etc. There’s something extra for birthdays that end in 0 and 5. I don’t know why, there just is.
That was the alternate title of this post. I’ve got plenty of people telling me I’m not old. But most of those people are older than me. It just feels like age became a real thing all of a sudden.
Thinking about the last five years – it’s been a pretty amazing, actually. For sure the most significant personal growth, and maybe that’s the good part of getting older – wisdom. I see clearer, understand more, worry less, pay less attention to stupid, and generally contribute more good than bad to the world. Tomorrow I’ll post about birthday fun and hopes and dreams and wishes and the future. Tonight I get to take a minute to think the last 5 years, as measured by birthdays.
How 31 was done:
I had been at River City Casino just under a year at this point and had finally relented and befriended the four crazy women that made up our HR office. I walked in the day of my birthday to find cake and decorations. It was really sweet.
Angela threw me a perfect party: Turkey burgers, pumpkin beer and s’mores for dessert. It was exactly what I wanted.
Meg is there on the left, she’s the one getting married in Virginia in a few weeks. Angela is on the other end, holding George (the dog). I emailed her a few days ago to tell her I can’t believe this years ago. Since then she has had two baby girls! This was just a minute ago! This was the group that brought me back into the world. I had come home from Chicago the day after my 30th birthday feeling lost and defeated. If there had ever been a time for me to focus on me and figure my crap out – it was that time. And when I was ready – so were these ladies. My divorce was final 4 days after this. And so I entered 32…
Boo to 32…
Yeah. Mostly the last several years have been a roller coaster that only goes up, but my 32nd birthday came right in the middle of a super yuck time. I “resigned” from the casino at the end of August and was once again lost and sad. Meg had moved in with me for what we thought would be 6 months while she looked for a job in Virginia, and good for her and all for finding one after 6 weeks. She moved out just a few days prior to my birthday. All I wanted for my birthday was Indian food with my sister for dinner.
What’s great about forcing myself to look back is that I’m so humbled by how people showed up for me. This blog may be ridiculous to everyone else, but I might have forgotten that Angela showed up to my house the morning of my birthday to go for a run and a workout with me. Claire met me at my favorite Mexican restaurant. When I stopped in to see Brian he made it seem like I was doing him a favor by working for him that fall, when I’m sure it was the other way around. My sister did go get Indian food with me for dinner. Cyndi continued her tradition of being the most thoughtful gift giver I know. Man. I have tears streaming down my face. I’m sure I took all of this kindness for granted in the moment. I’m sure I couldn’t see beyond my terrible, no-good time. I’m going to immediately send so many people flowers after I publish this.
Birthday recap here…
I look back and know that it was a hermit-y kind of birthday – but what I couldn’t have known is that three weeks later I would get the call that told me I was accepted into the BGSU grad school program. And that friends, was a choice that made all the difference…
33 – being as old as Jesus
I was really happy that my birthday was falling on a grad school weekend. These were the people I was closest to at that time and I couldn’t imagine spending my birthday with anyone else. I requested that we go back to Jed’s, and sit on their patio and drink the night away. And we did. What makes me smile about that night when I look back is it’s also the night I told, well, everyone really (including D) about my crush on D. It was this very grade school like plot to try and sit next to him or have a reason to talk to him. Our classmates weighing in on whether they thought this was a good idea. And me finally just telling him it was now officially the worst kept secret in the cohort. It was the first time there was any flirting and it was fun and exciting. Ahh, early romance.
The next morning in class I had some ‘splaining to do to poor D who may have been caught off guard by my admission. I spent the plane ride home crafting a really long email explaining how it had all come to be and what I was thinking, etc. It’s one of the emails I’ve kept – it was a really fun time.
Emilie, my favorite sister, always made sure she was around to celebrate with me as well. We went to a Slow Food St. Louis fundraiser and then drank Rumchata at my favorite neighborhood bar.
The first link was actually a post a few days before my birthday. And one that was really great to read right now. It was about the amazing and thoughtful people I have in my life (seriously Cyndi with the crazy thoughtful gifts) and the people that I’m so close to and that in this moment I’m not sure I deserve. I’m all wrapped up in break up angst (yes, still, a little – I know). I think that may be one of my favorite posts ever.
34 in paradise
This one is a little tougher to write about. Last year I ended birthday post with this paragraph:
I had no anxiety about this birthday at all. I don’t care that I’m “mid-30’s” now, I don’t mind another year. I have decided it’s a function of being very content. I don’t feel I should be somewhere else, someone else, something else. I’m actually quite happy with where everything in my life is right now.
I spent 34 in Mexico with D. It was a perfect trip. We were celebrating graduation which had been a month before, we got to spend real quality time together, he gave me two birthday cards because he couldn’t decide and I remember thinking that was adorable. It was just this really sweet and romantic trip.
I went into this post thinking about that last line from last year’s birthday post. My intention was to then say that not only did things not change – everything changed. I think during the course of writing this (incredibly long) post I’ve realized that actually, maybe not as much has changed as I think. I’m still incredibly lucky. I’m still surrounded by amazing people – many of the same. Cyndi is still an insanely thoughtful gift giver (Thanks, Cyndi!) and Claire is still checking in with me and Ann still likes every picture I post on Instagram and I’m in Meg’s wedding and Angela and I have dinner when I’m back in STL and Colin still texts me a random Sorkin quote… I feel a little like Ebenezer Scrooge with the ghost of Christmas past… These last few years have been amazing. It will only get better.
To 35 and beyond…
Tomorrow a group of colleagues will meet me for birthday happy hour. With the exception of two people, it’s a group I didn’t even know a year ago. And now there are some new favorites, friends I hope I have for many more birthdays to come.
Wow. Maybe the best gift (outside of the book and calendar Cyndi sent me!) is the always appreciated increased self awareness. It’s amazing how I came into this with a sad tinge. And I’m leaving with a list of people to send notes to, and be grateful for, and send love into the universe for.
I’ll save the article and Year 35 resolutions for another time. This became a whole other thing tonight. I wrote the title of this post first. I would have to say I do know how I feel about 35… fan-freaking-tastic.