The first 28 years of my life have been eventful. I've lived in 30 houses in 7 different states, attended 4 universities and a trade school, seen Paris, Mexico, Canada, visited 20 states in the US and served a mission. I've fallen madly in love a few times and had my heart brutally broken once. I've met and made better friends than any person has a right to. I've given up and tried again, discovered talents I didn't know I had, and weaknesses I didn't want to know I had. I've worked as a teacher, pizza maker, shelf stocker, deli slave, personal assistant to a boutique owner, campus bouncer, a special needs nanny, an RA, a waitress in a tapas bar, and now a cotton candy spinner extraordinaire. I've skinny dipped, road tripped, yelled at the ocean, stared at the moon, laughed so hard I've cried and cried so hard I've had nothing left to do but laugh. I've seen vibrant rainbows, more beaches than I can count, new babies and old ladies, big cities, small towns, gorgeous countryside and trees that tower so tall and majestic that I would dare anyone to not be overcome with a sense of awe at the sight of them.
And now, I'm almost 30. I'm 29 in fact--today.
To give you just a small glimpse of what it's like to be "almost 30" and a student at an LDS university that only offers undergraduate programs I will relate the following: A couple days ago I was sitting, sketching and a guy I'd talked to a few times around campus came and sat to make chit chat. We exchanged stories and laughs for about half an hour. By that point I'd calculated that he was probably 21 years old and I could see he was getting curious. I always ask people to guess my age when they ask and he came up with the usual guess of 23. When I, half grinning, knowingly revealed that I was just about 29 the guy hilariously half choked, then caught himself and tried to recover with, "Oh, congratulations" and a handshake.
When a woman gets this far past the ominous, "menace to society" label she has two options. She can either bury her head in shame and spend her days pining for a man to make her an acceptable member of Mormon culture-- a wife, a mother, an adult--or-- she can fully embrace the exceptional thing it is to be so free, to know herself so well and to have so many doors open to her and enough sense to go explore them. When put that way it's hard to understand why so many of us settle for option A.
I've decided the best way to celebrate the year twenty-nine is to cram thirty more "to do"s into my eventful twenties. They've been good to me, and when they haven't been good to me, they've taught me oceans of lessons I benefit from daily. I want to give them the fine farewell they deserve.
I have one friend I reach out to in my blackest of the black moments. She is infinitely patient, kind, positive, and gently nudges me in the best direction-- even when I don't want to hear it. She intuitively contacted me moments after The Mr. walked out of my life for good and never seems to tire of my sometimes spastic pleas for help in moments of desperation. In recent conversation about the demise of my marriage she said, "I don't feel like it was the end of something. I don't even feel like it's now a new beginning. I feel like it's the beginning. The start of your beautiful life." I feel like I am in a place in my healing where I am ready to more fully look forward. I can feel a shift in me where the healthiest thing to do for me now is to look ahead and build, and the best way I can see to do that this year is to work my way through the list I've compiled of thirty things to do before I turn thirty.