I am of the camp that an incredible experience trumps material goods any day, and this past weekend I was treated to one of my memorable experiences yet. Yesterday, I turned thirty years old. Thirty. It’s an age that, for most of my life, seemed like a mythical time; a world so far away that I was unsure I would ever even make it to. A saying I’ve heard more this past year than any other is “thirty is the new twenty-one,” and I must admit, I don’t disagree. In my early twenties, I graduated college, set off with a car jam-packed with my belongings, and moved into a walk-up in a big and scary city that I had no idea how to navigate. I took my first ‘real’ job pounding the out the days on on Wall Street, and got used to having real responsibilities; an alarm clock that sounded at five in the morning, sorting my bills and keeping my books straight, and reporting to a desk job everyday that had decidedly more weight behind it than previous gigs.
As I transitioned from the label of ‘recent graduate’ and into my mid-twenties, I gained courage, and became more self-assured. There were finally a few interns below me offering to get my lunch, and I stood tall in my heels – all of that now-familiar city was right at my fingertips. I met James, and we had a ton of fun; we were young enough that staying out too late was impossible, and long boozy brunches and Corner Bistro cheeseburgers rolled off our shoulder’s harmlessly – without threatening a nasty hangover or an extra pant size. We were full of possibility, and divided our time between work, keeping up tirelessly with friends, and spending time together, learning who we each were.
As we hurtled forward into our late-twenties,’ a funny sort self-awareness arose; where just a couple of years prior I had felt like a seasoned professional, I would meet an incoming coworker that was fresh off the college boat, and realize that, in fact, twenty-three is a lot younger than twenty-seven. I was fresh-faced and felt the same, but there was a discernible difference in my attitude and step. As time went on I got engaged, moved across the country, settled into a new, quieter ‘mountain’ life, and was married to someone who I could claim to have been dating for four years at the time of our nuptials – nearly 15% of my lifetime! As I jettison an era behind me and embark into a new decade, I can’t help but feel like the past ten years have in a sense been the most formative of my entire life. I’ve always had this idea that your twenties – those are where it’s at. Those are the years for having all the fun; the time for making your grown up mistakes and finding out who you really are. I’ve never had a fear of turning thirty; though there is most definitely a stigma that gets attached to that certain birthday, I think these days, thirty can truly be the start of many things. I feel more confident now than I ever have before, and I know have a better sense of who I truly am, and who I want to be. I have spent the last ten years pushing myself towards that goal, albeit sometimes getting off track, and think (hope !) that I have mostly achieved it. Where half of me is tempted to point out all that I haven’t done and all I am not, the strong and empowered thirty-year old inside of me knows better than fall prey to those thoughts, and to use any reasons to cut myself down as fuel to push myself forward.
This past weekend was the last I would spend in those wonderfully confusing twenties, and James told me a week ago that he had sneakily rented a house for the weekend in Breckenridge to celebrate. We were going to have a quiet weekend with two of our closest friends from Denver, and had plans to ski, snooze, and do lots of relaxing fireside. Those plans alone sounded like perfection, but I should have been tipped off that something was up when he scooped me from the bakery on Thursday afternoon and informed me that he had taken the liberty of emailing my boss and arranging for me to have Friday off. We arrived at our house and started to unload the ski rack, and as I walked through the front door four of my best friends from Florida State (who currently live in Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia) burst out of the coat closet, damn near giving me a heart attack. It was pretty dramatic, ya’ll. Arriving later came our friends from Denver, and the next day friends flew in from New York and LA. I was unbelievably surprised and just so happy to see their familiar faces, and things just went uphill from there. We skied, we après skied, and turned ourselves into prunes in the hot tub. There was big cake with a pug face on it, and a celebratory dinner at Modis. We ordered in pizza, cooked in for taco night, and noshed on cheese fries, local beers, and soft pretzels inbetween runs. It was chilly – to the tune of -5 on saturday – and I never put anything dressier than a tall and furry pair of Sorel boots on my feet. It was the most perfect way to send off my twenties, and I was so incredibly touched that everyone made such an effort on my behalf. It was a first-class send off to a great decade, and the most sublime way to harken in the next one.
Take that twenties. And Thirty….I’m ready for ya.