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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Of Bar Crawls & Burning Ovens: Welcome To My 29th Year.

Today's the day.

I'm 29.

I'll actually be 29 at 7:05pm Central Time, so 8:05 here in Eastern Time, which hits right around bedtime and the witching hour for my kids.


I don't know what I expected to say about today. Obviously I've been dreading it because the mental significance has slowly been suffocating me. 

But this week contains several markers of being a grown up -- from catching my stove on fire and calling the fire department because the fire extinguisher wasn't cutting it to trying to figure out how to attend back-to-back a first birthday party for a dear friend's son and the funeral of a friend from college who was unexpectedly killed overseas when the two events are 45 minutes away from each other and one ends as the other begins, naturally.

And while a couple of years ago the responsibility of it all would have crushed me beyond my ability to remove myself from the couch, now, I'm just shrugging my shoulders in temporary defeat and marching on with my little band of soldiers behind me, hoping I'm teaching us all a lesson on resilience and tenacity. Or something at least pretending to be those things.

I'm realizing that being a grown up doesn't really have much to do with age. Sure, it's an easy marker to quickly judge by and I'll never argue that they don't have some correlational effects on one another, but if anything, this week has taught me that being a grown up has more to do with perspective and grace, than it does an arbitrary (and socially-constructed) measure of time.

Being a grown up doesn't mean that the hits get easier or that the curve balls stop coming at you with ferocious unpredictability. It just means that you learn to weather them better. It means when you see them coming, you know you have equal probability of them hitting you in the temple and knocking you flat for three weeks, or having them clip your hip and leave you cursing and limping off field until you can get some ice on your wound and some ibuprofen in your system.

Being a grown up means hearing the words you need to get yourself and your daughter out of your house right away, ma'am and not even registering an iota of panic until you're outside with your baby on your hip waiting for the firetrucks you can hear coming to appear and you realize, holy shit, this could end up really bad as you think about the random papers strewn about your kitchen -- preschool artworks and chore charts and the pile of bills to be paid on your desk, all kindling five feet away from an open, uncontrollable flame.

Being a grown up is realizing that you grabbed your external hard drive and your cell phone and that's it, because you had to prop the back door for the pets to scatter and to hold on with both hands to your kid and everything else for the most part could be replaced.

I'm not saying I'm fully grown in any regard -- I don't think anyone is ever entirely grown up because there are always new challenges and new mountains to surmount and new curve balls to cause new bruises and concussions and sometimes, sometimes you won't always be able to react with the same levelheadedness as you'd wish or would be expected of you.

But part of the beauty of growing up is realizing that those moments don't make or break you, they just help you to better define your character to yourself and to anyone who may be watching.

Because, whether we know it or not, there are always people (even little ones) watching.

Twenty-nine means I can still go on a birthday bar crawl with a good friend from middle school and get the Party Bus Plague of 2013 and not let it ruin my entire week (but the puking stopping has helped). Being twenty-nine means I still have a year to do something remarkable besides breed and build things to round out the overwhelming decade that have been my twenties. 

Being twenty-nine means, god and universe willing, I still have a lot of time left to live on this planet and in the great span of it all, only a few precious events will ever truly mark it one way or another, everything in between are just opportunities to learn and teach and figure myself out a little bit more.

I'm going to be sad to leave my twenties. But I think it'd be more sad if I never got to see my thirties.

Here's to bar crawls and burning ovens; celebrations of firsts and of lasts, and to never ever stopping learning  the lessons that are always right in front of us, waiting to be discovered.