Monday, April 10, 2017

How Did I Get Here?

So today, at 8:32 pm I will turn 34. It’s scary. And weird. And a bit of a relief if I’m honest. I mean, my Grandma Baker always said getting old was much better than the alternative. She also said that the only way she’d ever re-marry was if she found an incredibly rich man with one foot in the grave and one foot on a banana peel. Grandma always had a way of streamlining life’s big questions.

But at 34, I’ve entered into official Mid-30s territory. This means that I’m old enough to see 19 year old Youtube millionaires and ask myself “where did I go wrong?” and also young enough to look at women who switched careers at 40 and became massive successes and reassure myself “there’s still time”. I’m not old enough yet to feel comfortable with myself, all the time, in the deep recesses of my heart. I’m not experienced enough yet to reach the state of Zen for longer than 10 minutes in any given day. I’m probably technically too old to still be buying tee shirts in the Juniors’ Department at
Target, but I won’t let that stop me.

So on days like this, it’s easy to be reflective. Easy to think, as the Talking Heads so eloquently queried “how did I get here?” And whatever I am that is me is mostly made up of moments, adequate chunks of time, others people’s time, but rarely ever a single teachable moment. As a person who thrived as a student, for a long time, I had hoped that “life lessons” were things that could be found on some sort of invisible syllabus. Maybe you’d be able to put them on a to-do list and mark them off with a sharpie. With the exception on one moment of my life, I’ve never learned a life lesson in one fail swoop. But what I do have are a collection of moments that I go back to. Moments of joy, the stories I tell, the ones my friends have probably heard a hundred times, a small collection that hopefully gets added to with each passing year as I continue to get older and hopefully avoid the alternative.

So here are some of those moments:

-Reading Matilda with my dad. It’s the first “grown-up” book I remember reading. It had chapters. Words I didn’t know. We took turns reading. He laughed more than I did most of the time. I laughed because he was laughing. You probably have your own Roald Dahl story too.

-The Anne of Green Gables book set from a PBS fundraiser drive. I don’t remember the date. Probably for a Christmas, or a birthday. The set was beautiful to me. Two sets of 3 books. Eventually Anne got her Gilbert. I need to re-read all of these. In today's world we could all use a little more Canadian Wisdom.

-Candy Drives. A high school candy drive is responsible for cementing one of my oldest friendships. Literally never underestimate the powerful combination of a Snickers and self-deprication. Chocolate and self-loathing are a one of high school’s most unbeatable teams!

-The first time I saw CATS, Rent, Empire Records, N’Sync, JAWS, The Breakfast Club and my boyfriend. Each one of these things will be different for everyone, but when you see something you love, you know it. That feeling is always the same.

-Living with best friends. There is a period of time, about a four year span, that is a blur for me. It’s because most of that time was spent in the company of extremely excellent people. Whether it was regular Friday movie outings, long-drawn out discussions that often involved me playing devil’s advocate, or pizza ordered in, there are bunches of tiny moments that fall under that category that helped make a weird time in my life a little saner.

-the ride home from getting our dog. We went to see a woman about a dog. A Bichon Frise to be precise. On the way there, my dad asked “well do we have some place for this dog to sleep tonight?” “We’re just looking” my mom lyingly reassured. When we arrived he was fluffy and tiny, a snowball of fur and two bright, shining black eyes and a damp nose. He was Chip. Chip’s dad peed on my
dad’s leg. I’d love to assign some meaning to that act, but I’m pretty sure he was just territorial. Chip was the runt of the litter and then he was ours.

-The moment I realized “Oh that crunching noise was my front bumper and this highway entrance just transformed into my own personal gateway to traffic hell”. The moment I realized “oh my car isn’t stolen…it’s been towed…to Fair Haven”. Again, for about two years, trouble with cars seemed to find me. Some of it was my fault, but a lot of times there seemed to be some gleeful intervention from a third party. If you’re very lucky, you can avoid these things. Most times you can’t. As long as you’re safe, they usually make for stories…within a year or two.

-Every trip into New York City. I know plenty of people that hate the city and plenty that love it. It’d be different for me now, only because I’m different. But that city holds a lot more memories for me than I probably ever gave it credit for. Overnights with friends in apartments that technically shouldn’t have more than 4 people living in them. Brunches in Brooklyn, a wedding in the Bronx, a trip to a vintage store for my 14th birthday where I got a long black satin jacket that reminded me of Audrey Hepburn. And always, that skyline.

There are more, some that I want to keep to myself, some that I’ve told so often I don’t need to write them down since their details are fixed, some that haven’t happened yet. But right now, that feels like enough for 34. There are too many thanks to give and too many people to hug and in a world that feels like it’s coming apart at the seams, all of that is really more than a woman in her mid-30s could
ask for.

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