As I ran my two mile training jaunt while Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” flooded my ears, I realized how much wisdom those words held. Crazy. Such a deceptively simple word that exactly describes my current state of mind. This is because the other day, a friend convinced me to stop training for Bay to Breakers and start training for a Half Marathon. And the best part? The half marathon is two months earlier and 6 miles longer than B2B. Her argument: Just think how easy B2B will be after you’ve run 13.1 miles…
13.1 miles. Every day, I try to fathom how far that is. I live closer than 13.1 miles to my work. My mom probably lives only about 7 miles from me–and in a car in rush hour traffic, even that seems interminable. In fact, I don’t think I DRIVE 13.1 miles during the course of a day, and she wants me to run it. Do you want to know the craziest part? I said yes.
So now here I am in the midst of full-on training. Yesterday was my first “official” day, even though I consider the 6 miles I ran last week as pre-training. I’ll run another 6 this week, and then the real fun begins. Part of me says, “Hell yes, I can do this” while the other (and sometimes louder) part of me thinks that I am, in the immortal words of Gnarls Barkley, crazy.
I will say this, though. When I was a senior in high school, awkward, chubby, and somewhat ugly, I never even dreamed of running around the block, let alone running a half marathon.
If I’ve noticed one major difference in myself since I’ve turned thirty, it’s this: I’m completely less judgmental than I used to be. I’ll admit it. I used to look at people who didn’t share my life’s plan or my world views with a certain level of disdain, but I’ve noticed that now I just kind of have a “What the hell” attitude about everything.
Case in point: My best friend from elementary school just facebooked me the other day, and I haven’t seen her since our senior year in high school when she left early because she got pregnant and had a baby. If this contact had happened just one short month ago (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little), I can see myself getting really freaked out about her life choices and feeling like we have absolutely nothing in common. In fact, I may have put my BlackBerry back into my black Coach bag and forgotten her message in cyberspace. But I didn’t. In fact, I celebrated the fact that she is one strong chick. She’s a single working mom of two boys and has survived an abusive relationship. That’s definitely something to be proud of. In fact, I think she’s one of my new heroes.
So far, my six week tenure in the thirties has taught me one very important lesson–there’s way more to life than carrying a Coach purse.
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.