30 Years Strong

Yesterday, I turned thirty.

I woke up, got ready for work, kissed my husband goodbye, and headed down the highway. I thought: What music fits today? And, oddly enough, it was Taylor Swift on shuffle. The girl who sang “I’m feeling twenty-two!” is who I wanted to listen to on the day I turned thirty.

I stopped at Bagel World, got a marble rye bagel with olive cream cheese, and ate it at my desk before students arrived. I drank a cup of strong coffee. I remembered birthdays past — some lovely, some less-than-so. I remembered it was also my cousin’s birthday; I’d been born on his tenth birthday three hundred miles away, and now we are each starting a new decade.

I remembered going to a wedding on my 25th and sitting with friends from church at a round table with a white table cloth. Having my name called from the dance floor. Standing in front of a room full of mostly strangers as they sang “Happy Birthday.” Feeling remembered. Feeling embarrassed. Feeling cared for. Feeling like twenty-five was unimaginably old.

When I walked through the lunchroom yesterday, the high schoolers sang “Happy Birthday” (they will always remember because I share a birthday with one of their comrades), and then after school, my international students brought me a surprise birthday cake to make our meeting celebratory. Their bashful faces as they presented it to me reminded me how young and shy they still are.

Coffee with my mom.

Tea with my sister.

Then the drive home to my husband who somehow always knows how to make a day special. We had dinner in the cozy candle-lit upstairs of a restaurant we’d been to, but never upstairs.

“This is perfect,” I said. “We’re at a place we know we like, but a new part of it so it feels like my birthday.”

There were flowers from a friend on the table, texts and phone calls from people I love. Singing voicemails and messages of encouragement.

A beautiful typewriter that I wish I could be using right now to write this blog.

All of this is not to show that I had the most amazing day (even though it was amazing).

Mostly, it is to remind myself that turning thirty is a beautiful accomplishment. Many of the people I most love and admire are thirty or have been at one point. With age comes wisdom (if done correctly), and yesterday I felt more excitement about the year ahead than I did sadness at the years behind. That is saying a lot.

[first day of thirty]

I started writing online in 2012, after a birthday that left me particularly sad and confused and unsure. I was certainly happy to leave twenty-two behind, but there was so much that I couldn’t anticipate about the year to come. So, I sat down on my parents’ couch with a French press of coffee and started this blog (or the early manifestation of it).

For seven years, I’ve been thinking, processing, expressing, sharing, and writing in this space that holds so much of me. There have been times when I’ve looked back and cringed at what I wrote. I’ve even toyed with deleting old posts that feel outdated, not me, or just plain silly to preserve my self-respect. I haven’t let myself, though. To write, you need to be honest.

So, what will I do with my first full day of Thirty?

clean my car
do laundry (but I did help with a load…)
worry about finances
think about what to name the baby
stress about the right stroller
wonder how I’ll write when I have an infant

Instead, I will make stock out of a chicken we roasted this week and vegetable scraps.

I will clean my desk off, rearrange it, and write a blog post about thirty and all the joy that is to come.

I will go for a ride in the car with my husband.

I will watch an episode of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

I will enjoy a day of rest, companionship, and anticipation of what is to come.


4 thoughts on “30 Years Strong

  1. Hannah Mell

    Welcome to your thirties, darling! It’s a wonderful place to be. You’ll have a big year, and an even bigger decade! What a marvel it is to journey through this life, isn’t it? It is a joy and privilege to hear some of your tales along the way. Thank you for putting your heart on the page (er, screen)…it does my heart good each time you share. And enjoy putting your heart on the real page…that typewriter is gorgeous!

    Reply
    1. catherine_hawkins Post author

      Thank you, Hannah! You have always been an inspiration to me, and the way you embrace each year as a gift is no different.

      Reply
  2. Russell Hawkins

    30 years have passed very quickly. I remember the nurse handing you to me that morning… who knew you would grow into such a lovely person!

    Reply
    1. catherine_hawkins Post author

      I was thinking how strange it is that I remember YOUR 30th birthday! So much time and so many beautiful and challenging days. Love you, Dad.

      Reply

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