Thirty’s the new twenty. Just wanted to see it in words. Actually, I like and dislike this phrase. I like it because I can’t help but hear Jay-Z’s voice in his song “30 Something” :
“I use to wear my hoodie like that (like that)
pile deep in the hoopty like that (like that)
now I got black cards, good credit and such
bae boy, cause I’m all grown up”
I dislike it because I want to be recognized as 30, not 20. What a difference a decade makes! I like the 20-year-old Erin, with her goofy rap moves, skinny-dipping tendencies, and gator-hunting experience. She was ancy and restless, like a dog trying to drink life from a firehose, a goofy skinny-dipping hunter, sailing on the winds of her emotions. She’s still in there, but at 30 I realize the truth of “with age comes wisdom.” I am not so anxious to “make” my life happen, I am more anxious to keep my eyes open as it unfolds, trusting more in what is happening behind the scenes, than in what I can see or feel in this moment. I’m learning. I’m learning that I’m in the middle of a painful and beautiful process of losing me, and staying quiet and still enough to be guided by the Spirit. I’m realizing just how selfish and experience-driven I can be, how I can demand of others what is not theirs to give. I am learning to, in poet Mary Oliver’s words, “Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.” Oh, so slowly. Oh, so hard.
So, I had this silly idea that I would wake up on the morning of my birthday and feel depressed. At twenty, my vistas for myself in ten years were incredible. I worried that I would wake up to: No man, no kids, no platinum records, no published books, I haven’t (yet) learned Spanish or the guitar fluently. I haven’t finished grad school, I haven’t attended classes at Oxford, etc. etc. but instead I woke up grateful. Thank you, Jesus, for my life! I have life!
The day continued in gratitude…I talked with friends on the phone near and far, an old friend from college I haven’t spoken to in years remembered it was my birthday, my roommate had given me a card written in beautiful words and balloons outside my door, etc. etc. and I’m not even on facebook! Heidi (my close friend) sent me a package, I recieved a birthday card from her mom and sister, and the newly married Kristian Campbell, who had her second wedding here in March, had hidden a very generous gift in my room. My friend Michelle had set me up with a facial at the very posh salon she works at. And then I got to sit on on a fiction workshop, drive down A1A, get a manicure and pedicure from Michelle herself, and then watch my worlds collide at DaDa’s, a really quirky restaurant in Delray Beach.
Friends, new and old, met me there, along with my brother and sister-in-law, who left their 3 kids with their friend Tina. (Thanks, Tina!) That was a gift in itself. My neighbors came, friends from FAU were there, girls from my Real Sex study, a old co-worker from my high school teaching days, Janny, came. The idea was to tell stories and sing songs and read poetry…an open mic night, if you will. Those things are my favorite, and I have so many talented friends. My roommate, Becca the amazing, played a song she wrote, “Grace,” and some Patty Griffin, my friend Grant also sang. Jill Bergkamp, my poet friend from FAU was there with her husband, Steve. Jill (pictured here…don’t kill me Jill, I think you look beautiful)
read a poem by Mary Oliver called “To Begin with, the Sweet Grass.” The poem made me cry (I hate crying in front of people!) but it was so beautiful I couldn’t help it. To me, this poem does to me what laughing with my neices, or singing along with Mumford & Sons, or climbing a mountain does.