The thing about 30 is that time is of the essence. No, I’m not so dramatic that I feel I have one foot in the grave; what I mean is that time is of the essence because there’s so little of it in the day. When I was in my early 20s, I had all kinds of time. I could go out with my husband and my girlfriends, read three chapters of my favorite book, fold laundry, and still have a few hours left to waste my time with trash TV.
Now I have so little time that I forget basic life skills like eating my lunch at work, so when I have the rare opportunity to hang out with three of my long-time girlfriends (we’ve been through junior high and high school together), I usually jump at the chance.
Last night was one of our wild GNOs (now that we’reall 30, wild means home and in bed before midnight), and from Tami’s spontaneous and uncurable frog in the throat to Jessica’s heart-wrenching confession that her stepmom has cancer, it was comforting to reconnect to my younger self–even if for only a few hours, and it made me realize that no matter how old we get, we’re never too old to have BFFs.
There is only one place in the world where the Pussycat Dolls and Pat Benatar can coexist peacefully. Sunrise Rollerland, otherwise known as the location of my surprise thirtieth birthday party.
Oh yes, it’s true. I spent the Sunday night after my birthday rollin’ it up with baby boomers, pre-teens, and a weird forty-year-old employee in camo pants and a wife beater, who loved his job waaay too much.
It was the perfectly symbolic place for a thirtieth birthday party, considering the last time I was there, I was probably about fourteen. As I walked into the dank musty lobby, I looked around and realized that everything was still exactly the same. From the Old English crest that accentuates the medieval theme to the intense game of red light/green light, it was like I was in high school all over again–only better. Better because this time, I went with a date (my husband) and because I wasn’t wearing neon.
Even the music was the same–Heart, Belinda Carlisle, and Pat Benatar. They just have some new friends now.
Why do people do crazy things on their thirtieth birthdays? Some people skydive or travel, and a friend of mine advised me to buy a car like she did. Other people drink themselves into tequila oblivion, maybe hoping they won’t remember the day they turned 30, allowing them to celebrate 29 #3 the next year.
Maybe they’re trying to prove to themselves that they’re still exciting and fun–kind of like they’re still 29.
I decided that I would celebrate my crazy thirtieth in a blood donor chair in my high school’s small gym.
Because of my phobia of both blood and needles, I always decided that giving blood–an activity that combined both of my worst fears–would never be for me. And after I got over my initial “What the hell was I thinking?” moment in the waiting area, I said to myself “What the hell?” and sat in the blue lounge chair while the phlebotomist hooked tubing and a needle to my vein.
And I know that it wasn’t as exciting as jumping out of an airplane or escaping to the south of France, but it proved, like any fear-conquering adventure, that I’m just as cool–if not cooler–than I was in my twenties, even if I did get an 18-hour headache from one glass of red wine.
I’ve graduated college. I’ve begun my Master’s. I’ve traveled to Barcelona, Cannes, Florence, Rome, Venice, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Palermo, and London. I’ve performed on the stage at the Globe Theater and run Bay to Breakers. I professed my love for a man in front of over 100 people and I endured 22 hours of labor (19 of which were drug free). I run a successful high school publication and lead a team of five English teachers. I am involved in the high school reform movement at the school where I teach. Occasionally, I make dinner for my family, and almost every night I put my daughter to bed. And I’m 29. For four more days. I’m completely freaking out.
Ten years ago, I had one of those “What I’m going to do by the time I’m thirty” lists. On my list: travel to Europe (check). Buy a home (check–twice). Get married (check). Have a baby (check). Even though I’ve added items to the list–some that have been checked off and some that haven’t–I was sure that once I reached thirty and completed most of my list, I’d have a really good sense of who I was. I was mostly right. Until a few months ago when the dreaded milestone birthday began to loom closer.
Suddenly, in my mind, I shifted from the over-achieving, exciting 20-something to the…I don’t know. Thirty-something. Didn’t they used to have a show in the eighties about us?
I’ve realized that I don’t have a clue about who I am anymore. And I’m completely freaking out.