I had a little late-night inspiration when I went to bed last night and realized I'd be 29 in the morning. Here's what I came up with (saved it until this morning, because it's never smart to post a blog when you're half asleep...crazy talk much?):
Here I sit on the eve of my 29th birthday, restless and wide awake due to fact that:
a. The guy across the street is playing the guitar and singing on his balcony (which I really enjoy, because he's playing good songs).
b. It's still a little light outside at 11:30pm (equally enjoyable).
c. Birthdays are still exciting.
Since my mid-20's, I've wondered what it would feel like to face the end of the glorious decade everyone so adores in their lives.
Well, here it is...one more year left until that oddly definitive mark of 30.
And you know what? I feel fantastic. I have no regrets about my 20's thus far, and that's something I've worked very hard toward since college graduation.
It may seem like I have a pretty carefree schedule these days, traveling and being available. I'll admit, I do feel pretty carefree right now. And I can't tell you how thankful I am for every single moment of this opportunity, because I know it won't last forever.
However, being a nomad and leaving behind dear friends and family three times in the past seven years isn't all easy-breezy. Starting over multiple times takes a tremendous amount of energy.
I also spent the majority of my 20's working hard and doing a lot of soul-searching with regard to my not-so-stimulating/nerve-fraying career choice of accounting. Sometimes I really wish I could go back and tell my 19-year-old self to avoid following the paycheck or the job security, in hopes that said 19-year-old self would take the hint and major in English or Journalism or Art or Education and hopefully enjoy going to work every day.
Alas, I never would have met the love of my life or some of my favorite friends without some of that spreadsheet-suffering in the audit rooms and cubicles, so 'twas meant to be in the end. And I'm optimistic, so we'll see what happens when this fun little hiatus is over.
Anyway, back to 29.
There's a passage in Eat, Pray, Love (I know, I know...the chick book of all chick books) that really hit home when I read it a couple of years ago:
"Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it."
Thank you for hitting the nail on the head, Elizabeth Gilbert. You're a gem.
So there. My thoughts on turning 29 are basically to keep swimming, be thankful, and have no regrets.
I'd also like to take a moment to thank the great 2-8. It was one of those definitive years of life that helped to show me another little piece of myself.
Actually, now that I think about it, my definitive years have surfaced every two years since college...
At 22, I stuffed a suitcase to its limit and moved to a place I'd never even visited to attend grad school at the University of Oregon. That year brings me smiles and tears every time I think about it. It taught me more about myself than anything else ever could have at the time, and the amount of fun I had that year is indescribable.
At 24, I stuffed my little Jetta to her limit and headed for the addictive green mountains once again. This time I headed to Portland from Tulsa. My family and Ken were in T-town, but I knew I had to live in P-town. I constantly think about how extremely grateful I am that Ken joined me one year later, and that I met some of the coolest people I know.
At 26, I got married, and learned that the independence I thought I would lose didn't go away at all. It actually became something even better.
A few weeks after my 28th birthday, the opportunity to move to Norway surfaced. And everything in life got gloriously flipped upside down. It was a year of goodbyes, scaling down to the bare minimum of possessions (which is absolutely refreshing), getting over the guilt of not working (okay so that didn't actually take long...), figuring out a whole new world, navigating frozen sheets of ice that were supposed to pass for sidewalks, traveling to places I'd always dreamed of visiting, and making amazing new friends.
At 30, we'll return to our "normal" lives in Portland, but with a different perspective due to 28 and 29. And I plan to get the biggest, furriest, drooliest dog I can find. So, it seems like the two-year trend will stay true.
I'd also like to give a special thanks to Ken for making years 23-28 pretty darn fantastic.
All that to say...here's to the last year of my 20's! Time to make it count.