Sunday, September 11, 2011

Twenty Nine: A Very Special Guest Blog

So I just celebrated what the superstitious might refer to as my “champagne birthday” – where the age you turn matches the date of your birthday, stars align, and you have a magical, awe-inspiring celebration… At least according to the little bit of info I managed to hunt down about this so-called phenomenon (high-five, Internet!). So uh, yeah – I’ve got some questions…

Just to be clear: this magic stuff, does it start automatically? Were you supposed to sign up somewhere? Is it only for dog owners? ‘Cause it’s been a few days and I’m fairly certain that the heavens stayed put and the awes were kept to a minimum. Emoticon.

It could be the date though, let’s not blame the superstition; after all, that notion that one event could cause another sans any physical process linking those two events is completely plausible if not foolish foolproof. Wait a tick – the date! Yes, the date robbed me of the champagne effect! It has to be the date. Simple math would have us know we’re dealing with < 31 and > 1 (yeah calendars!), so …which one is it? Which number is guilty of the transgression?

[Pregnant pause]

Twenty. Nine.

Ha, you were thinking thirty. Everyone does. Thirty’s got a bad reputation; Thirty’s the one in the leather jacket smoking the Gauloise behind the gym in high school. Thirty’s trouble.

Or is it? Has twenty-nine been squeaking by due to its close proximity all these years? Careful now, it would appear that thirty’s been taking the heat for a little while. Think about it – what birthday do you most fear? What party did you drink enough to not feel feelings? What did you used to tell yourself when you were a kid you’d have accomplished by the time you were thirty? Chances are you didn’t elucidate to your tween friends: ‘By the time I’m thirty, I’d love to be renting a place I can’t afford and not saving a dime, going on dates that are planned to include an exit strategy, gorging myself on Teen burgers, and working at a job that already makes me tear my hair out.’ Chances are there was a 6-figure salary and a rewarding career underway, an emotionally mature and fulfilling relationship, maybe a white wedding, maybe a baby, and puppies and gumdrops and rainbows. Or: not, but

Growing up in small town North America with cultural babysitters such as Walt Disney, Hollywood, and other mainstream media thirty is sold to you as a goal of sorts. There’s a pretty word for it (oh hi there, Milestone) but no matter how you dress it up, thirty comes with expectations.

It sneaks up on you. It’s couched in false relief that it’s not thirty – it waits until you aren’t looking and you wake up one morning and realize that you are almost thirty. And there it is. The nuance is subtle, but it’s there: when you turn thirty you’re all ready there, what is done is done (and what isn’t, well…oops). BAM! No more illusions. But twenty-nine still has potential…there’s still time – right? Of course there is.

It’s true – technically, you do have one year left to fit all of the life markers that your cultureparentsgrandparentsDisneyJesusandOprah modeled for you into your timeline – but what does that mean? Make a mad dash for the proverbial finish line and force the issue by sprinting through your goals? (Sure you can marry that rugged looking [read toothless] successful [read self-taught exterminator] homeowner [read double-wide trailer] that’s been giving you the eye down at the tasty-freeze, that’s like a three-for isn’t it?). If it’s a future ripe with banjos, mullets and juice harps that you’re after then you’re all set.

Change the timeline. Balk at the quarter-life crisis. Flip your cultureparentsgrandparentsDisneyJesusandOprah the bird, establish your own markers and embrace this last year - after all if thirty is the new twenty then twenty-nine must be the new nineteen n’est pas?!


Approbation to: and

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