On the Eve of Birthdays


It’s the eve of my 31st birthday—and I don’t feel ready.

(So what else is new? I wasn’t ready for my 30th birthday either.)

I wanted time to be ready. I wanted time to, at the very least, look back on the year that was and get a solid grip on the most eventful twelve months of my life to date.

I wanted to know, in other words, if I should celebrate the fact that I’m turning 31 or not based on how I felt my 30th year went. (A bad idea: the passage of any year should be celebrated.)

But it’s hard to tell how the last year went. My closest analogy would be the first time I rode a banana boat and the motorboat pulling it made a sudden, sharp turn, causing all the boat’s occupants to tumble headfirst into the water. In those first few seconds of utter disorientation, it was impossible for me to determine which way was up and which way was down. It took a while for the panic (from two previous near drowning incidents) to subside and logic to return (“Oh, the bubbles are heading that way, so that way must be up.”).

This last year was like having a really long stretch of those first few seconds. Not a single aspect of my life stayed the same (from what I ate to where I lived to what I did and with whom I spent my time). And unlike previous periods of transition where normalcy resumed after the passage of weeks, stability completely eluded me for the last several months.

And part of me is thinking (wistfully, I suppose): it wasn’t supposed to be like this. This should have been the year (this should have been the decade) when I’d have had everything figured out and all the pieces nailed into place. This was the year when I should have benefitted from all the intense experimentation and all the earnest soul-searching. Because, really, I’d already found all my answers. I knew (finally!) what I wanted to do with my life and how I wanted to do it.

As it’s turned out: knowing the answer is one thing. Living it is another thing altogether.

And maybe, just maybe, that’s what turning 31 will be about.

Maybe.

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