Theme: The End.
In a few short months I will turn 30. I know I’m supposed to panic, but I’m not the type of person who fears getting older. In fact, I told my friend Vivianna that I was 26 since I was 23. I’ve come clean with her now so I don’t have to keep living a lie. I don’t worry about getting older because my life has only gotten better with each year. My only twinge of sadness comes from saying goodbye to the decade that formed me. My 20’s were a wild ride filled with discovery and it’s sad to see the decade go. I have every intention of making my 30’s an adventure, but until I get there, I want to remember the past ten years before they come to an end – the good, the bad, the formative, the strange, the complicated, the beautiful roaring 20’s of my life.
Join me on this journey through the past, won’t you?
AGE: 20 [Guilty pleasure: stealing burritos from the cafeteria by sneaking them out in cups.]
I kicked off my 20s by getting on a plane and living in Dublin, Ireland for six months with my best friend Felicita. I was seeking adventure, inspiration, and independence – and looking forward to legally drinking in an adorable pub. Felicita and I fell in love with boys, with friends, and with the beautiful country. Living abroad gave me a new perspective on the places I’ve lived before, and I realized I am lucky enough to have loved every place I’ve lived. When I returned to San Francisco to finish up at USF, I had a new confidence that did wonders for me.
LESSONS LEARNED: home can be anywhere if you open yourself up to it; a best friend is someone who sees you at your worst but loves you for your best; Buckfast is a dangerous elixir.
AGE: 21 [Guilty pleasure: wearing PJ’s to class because I could not give fewer fucks.]
My first semester of senior year came with an enormous amount of work. I was on the executive board of two thriving student organizations, had a completely full class-load, and was auditing music classes on top of that. Sleeping, eating, and socializing were all taking a hit, but I was loving it. It was a rush to be busy with projects I was passionate about, despite the ravages it had on my body. I was malnourished, got an average of 3 hours of sleep a night, and my stress levels were off the charts. My second semester, I decided to take it easy and finally try to get one of those boyfriend-things. It worked. I met this sweet guy named Kevin at a bar, and it turns out I would marry him (see: AGE 28).
LESSONS LEARNED: you can’t be in two (or three) places at once; going for something you want is the only way to get it.
AGE: 22 [Guilty pleasure: taking looong baths in my janky apartment’s claw foot tub.]
FREEDOM. For the first time in 16 years, I was not in school. I took a 10 hour-a-week literary manager internship at Cutting Ball Theater because real jobs in the arts were few and far between. I was also spending a lot of afternoons at home watching Judge Joe Brown. I was making older friends who were showing me the ropes around this twenty-something lifestyle. I was going on long walks with my boyfriend who I was liking more and more. I was falling in love.
LESSONS LEARNED: use your free time well because you probably won’t get a chance like that again; Joni Mitchell always has the perfect song.
AGE: 23 [Guilty pleasure: going to dinners I couldn’t afford with friends who had money.]
I was not making a lot of progress in the theater scene. After a year of interning, I was hoping a career might show itself to me – it didn’t. No one was knocking on my door to hire me as a Literary Manager or Marketing Coordinator for their theater – it was the fucking recession, of course they weren’t. I was more or less convinced that making a full-time job out of a non-profit passion wasn’t going to work – it’s so much effort for so little money and recognition. I respect the people who do that work, but I decided to be a supporter of the arts, and not a full time artist. At this point, I was mainly living off of what my parents sent me, and I started to feel like I had never graduated or moved on. I knew it was time to find a full time job.
LESSONS LEARNED: patience is probably something you should learn; only write for yourself – you can’t write what is inside someone else.
AGE: 24-26 [Guilty pleasure: seeing movies by myself.]
These years blur together for me. I took a receptionist job at a women-owned law firm and it defined me for these years. Although I took on a lot of theater opportunities (directing with SF Theater Pub, Bay Area One Acts, Cutting Ball Theater), when people asked me what I did, I answered: “I’m an administrative assistant at a law firm.” I felt legitimized by full time employment, even though I was paid to do something I didn’t enjoy or felt I was any good at. That’s why these years blur. I was trying to be something I wasn’t, and it took away from memorable risks and rewards I could have achieved if I had actually tried. It was during this time Kevin and I had a talk about us. There was a moment where we nearly broke up, but we figured out that we both wanted the same things, and that included being with each other so we figured out all the other stuff. Eventually, we moved in together, and things just clicked.
LESSONS LEARNED: trust your gut; don’t turn your back on a relationship just because its hard; don’t be afraid to let someone or something change you.
AGE: 27 [Guilty pleasure: taking an hour lunch at 10:30am and making it a luxurious brunch.]
I went to Costa Rica. I spruced up my Spanish (which was elementary to begin with) and went on the first adventure abroad with Kevin. At this point, I suspected we were nearing the “engagement” portion of our relationship. After the 1,000th wedding we attended, we comfortably talked about our wedding, and what we wanted our marriage to be like. So, it was under a steamy waterfall in a collection of hot springs on a warm November evening in Costa Rica that Kevin and I decided to get married.
LESSONS LEARNED: for godsake go on more adventures!
AGE: 28 [Guilty pleasure: going down the wedding blog rabbit hole for HOURS.]
Planning a wedding is mind-boggling. We freaked out over all the moving parts a wedding has and like most couples, we considered eloping. As we worked hard on all of these details, I was also facing tragedy. My aging grandmother was on her last leg and we knew she might not live to see the wedding. My friend Sam was losing her battle to stage IV breast cancer. My friend from Dublin, Aoife, discovered her Ocular Melanoma had moved to her liver. I was realizing that there might be three funerals before I got to my wedding and my brain just kind of stopped functioning. Though we did lose our lovely Sam two weeks before the wedding, and my grandmother not long after the new year, Aoife is still doing well and remains one of the strongest people I know. Twenty-eight proved to be the hardest year of my life, but it helped me realize life is too short and too amazing to be stuck somewhere you don’t belong. So I left my job with no game plan and a lot of gumption.
LESSONS LEARNED: sometimes being there for someone means saying absolutely nothing at all; I am so lucky to be surrounded by the people in my life.
AGE: 29 [Guilty pleasure: working on the couch with my cat curled up next to me.]
Here we are. Sitting at my cozy desk in my apartment, freelancing, going on excellent adventures with friends that include camping in the redwoods, dancing in yurts in the mountains, and putting on theater for the masses. This is my life and it feels right and good. I’ve written more this year than I have the past five. I remember those I lost. I think of those I love often. I laugh more than I cry. I look forward to my thirties.
LESSONS LEARNED SO FAR: even if they don’t work out, at least taking risks will give you something to write about.
*Photo by Romel