On my last day of my thirties I did not wax overly sentimental. We were ready to part ways. It was time for new, and next.
My thirties were a beautiful, hard gift. I got some version of everything I always thought I wanted. Sometimes it was more than I could have ever hoped for. Sometimes I felt lost. And I felt lost that it or I might not be enough. If you got everything you thought you wanted and still wanted more, then the problem, of course, must lie with you. I wonder, do other women walk around with this hole inside them or just me? This hole inside them where there is a deep unending well of love for their family, and this cavernous space where they used to nurture their own desires. That small but incredibly important space where you allowed yourself to dream, and where life seemed open to possibility.
Strangely, to say goodbye to my thirties, I went to New York City with my husband which will forever be a nostalgic hat tip to my twenties. The very best part about New York of course as anyone will tell you is the walking. It’s the whole point of it really. It’s how you learn where anything is. The smells wafting out from the steamy subway rolling beneath your feet and the shitty cheap pizza on the corner that will sell you a slice and a drink for 99 cents. It is the walking that reveals all of the city’s hidden gems. New York is a wonderful reminder that the point of it all is less about where you’re heading and more about taking stock. All of the walking, that journey is life.
I think back to 2001 when I made one of my first New York friends. She seemed so much more grown up and worldly and just, adultish. I still felt like I was playing a part. One evening we went for a walk in our city and passed a pair of shoes in the window of a store front. They were a pair of flashy kitten heels. I confessed that I loved them but I could never pull them off. “They just aren’t me,” I bemoaned. She stopped and turned with her characteristic broad smile. “Why, that’s silly. If you buy them, then they will be you.”
In many ways, I feel like I’ve spent the past ten years trying to own my grown up shoes. Trying to pretend I knew the right way to be someone’s mother or how to bury my own. Pretending I knew how to be a wife or join the PTO, pretending that I’m fulfilled through the management of their cello lessons and soccer games and that any of this has any correlation with how much and how deeply I love them. How I would literally saw off a piece of myself for them. How perhaps I already have.
My husband tells me I seem disconnected lately and I know that he is right. I spend most of my day moving through it in a very automatic fashion. I check boxes on emails to be returned and laundry that needs to get done. I kiss boo boos when they need it. I braid hair and read stories. I schedule doctors and make up flyers and it feels so amazing that I get to spend any time at all with these beautiful creatures that my heart feels like it will literally burst open in that moment from loving them so much. And sometimes I feel nothing. And I literally exist all day in the space between everything and nothing and wonder how every moment of every day can feel so extreme.
This morning as we prepare to race through another day, Ruby tells me she learned in her Weird but True book that you get more wet in the rain if you run than if you stand still. I can’t stop thinking about this. My thirties were spent running from it, or running to catch up to all of it, of the stuff I need to do, of the woman I’m supposed to be. I’m tired of existing too much in a space that is consumed by checking a box rather than filling it. She reminds me that I haven’t been writing for a while and this stings a bit, mostly because it’s true. I don’t have a good answer for why. Probably fear, anxiety, logistics, myself, I guess I’ve been too busy running from the rain.
So I take her sister to school and come inside and get very still.
I go upstairs and root around in my messy closet trying to decide whether to wear my bright pink Birkenstocks or my Democrat donkey themed Toms. In the end, I slip on the shitty flip flops I bought in the grocery store. They are the perfect marriage of convenience and freedom and breathability with a healthy dose of I have zero fucks to give about wearing flip flops in October. I realize my friend from all those years ago was absolutely right. You just have to own whatever moment you’re in to become it.
And just like that, I slip into my forties.