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The Last Night of My Twenties: Musings on the Precipice of Youth

Posted May 24 2012 6:21pm

In just a few hours, I turn 30.

I will spend this evening most likely doing a load of laundry, cleaning the kitchen, and changing the cats’ litter. We’re having leftovers for dinner. I might even have a beer.

I know, I know – livin’ the wild life over here.

. . .

Tomorrow night, Larry’s taking me to Craigie on Main . We’re sitting at the Chef’s Counter and splurging for the tasting menu. He told me today that my birthday gift has arrived on time and I’ll be getting it at dinner tomorrow.

My current birthday wishlist includes:

  • Two new pairs of jeans from Fashion Bug (because seriously, these are the only jeans that fit my stumpy legs and generous derriere)
  • Linens for the bedroom (and/or a weekend and carte blanche bankroll to shop at IKEA)
  • A natal chart reading

That’s it. No jewelry, no books, no concert tickets. Just jeans, linens, and an astrological reading.

Larry tells me I will receive none of these things from him. I’m not complaining. Rather, I’m intrigued. Although, with a lame birthday wishlist like mine, I pretty much have left the field wide open on birthday gifts.

“It had to be customized,” he told me.

Color me even more intrigued.

. . .

Keiko at 20

This is me at 20, a sophomore in college.

When I turned 20, I remember thinking at the time, “I’m finally an adult!” I was a sophomore in college. I still didn’t have my license at the time. I was up to my eyes in extracurriculars (at the expense of my academics), from Jewish Student Union to the Gay/Straight Student Alliance to rehearsing weekly in a small madrigal vocal ensemble. I was the proud owner of my first cell phone, one of those old school flip Motorolas.

Larry took me to dinner for my birthday then, too. We went to Ortlieb’s Jazz Haus in Philly, which I was saddened to learn last year has since closed. We both got dressed up for an amazing night on the town, a preview of what much of my late twenties have been like.

When I turned 25, I got an air conditioner for my birthday. We had just moved up to Massachusetts the day prior. It was ungodly hot. We were living on our own in a brand new state. A countdown clock was ticking for me to find a job as Larry started his first full-time job outside of school. I was a little disappointed in the lack of fanfare for what I saw as a milestone birthday, but it was overshadowed by our epic move from Maryland to Massachusetts.

And here I am, on the eve of 30. On the precipice of “youth” and “okay, seriously, you have a mortgage now, so maybe you can finally consider yourself an adult already”.

. . .

When we got married four and a half years ago, I wanted to be pregnant by my 30th birthday.

. . .

In my early twenties, I felt myself going from such a focused idea of what I wanted to be in my life at that time, to suddenly feeling the blinders come off and having my eyes open to a world of other possibilities. When I went to college, I assumed I’d graduate a vocal performance major – with her teaching degree, of course – I’d teach to fill in the gaps when I wasn’t a world-class opera star . I came out, however, committed to pursuing a career in Student Affairs in higher education.

A lot of it was the result of some deep soul-searching and really coming into my own during college. As graduation day marched closer and closer, I realized that I felt kind of lost, wondering just what the hell I was going to do as a newly switched from Music to Communications Major. I latched on to Student Affairs because I was an RA, and my world was colored by the work I did in the residence halls.

It made sense at the time.

Seven years later, I left the field. I have no intentions of returning to higher ed.

I find myself in that same frame of mind when I was 22 years old, wondering what’s next, feeling the heat from things like Turning Thirty and Eventual Parenthood looming on the horizon.

In my late twenties, my last decade has been bookended by some deep soul-searching and coming into my own, largely as a result of finding out I have POF. It shook a lot of what I assumed about myself – and the kind of life I would make for myself – to the core. Suddenly, I find such use in a Communications degree using technology that didn’t even exist at the time I earned my degree by finding my voice in social media and blogging.

When I started my senior year of college, I distinctly remember thinking, “I have no idea what I want to do when I graduate. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”

Even now, as a (struggling) freelancer and part-timer for an NPO, I still don’t know.

The only thing that’s come into focus since 2009 is that g-ddamnit: I want to be a mom. It fills so much head and heart space within me that I worry I’m blocking out other parts of myself that would otherwise flourish.

. . .

This song has been on loop in my head this past week:

Tonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can grow brighter
Than the sun

. . .

Keiko at 30

Keiko, on the eve of her "Dirty Thirties"

If you had asked me at 20 what my life would be like at 30, I don’t know that I could have answered that. I was still fresh from switching majors, with no real clue yet as to where a Communications degree would lead.

“Married with kids,” I probably would have said. “Living in a city.”

Having lived for 3 months in the heart of Boston, I laugh now at that sentiment. I hate living in the city. I’ll take an urbanized area with houses, please (which is why I love Salem so much).

My prediction for 40?

“Married with kids.”

Some things never change.

. . .

I think I will have that beer after all.

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