Tag Archives: birthday

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.


~25~

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Smell deeply ~ Bake more ~ Plant a yellow rosebush ~ Light candles ~ Journal when I want ~ Not journal when I want ~ Recommend good books ~ Drink hot tea ~ Wear out my sneakers with running ~ Discover the city with fresh eyes ~ Brush my hair more often ~ Knit warmth ~ Say “I love you” when it’s hard ~ Don’t confuse the “now” with the “someday” ~ Take more pictures ~ Pick a favorite wine ~ Sing like I used to ~ Get my ears pierced? ~ Write (and mail) more letters ~ Dance as much as possible ~ Learn a little more about how to love ~ Don’t fear change ~ Don’t fear stagnation ~ Grab whatever it is and go ~ Loose friends to the four corners of the world but remember them ~ Share my hope

 [Today is my twenty-fifth birthday. Today, I will celebrate at a wedding. I will eat cake and dance and marvel at being a quarter-century.]

 

 

 

A Birthday Wish

I looked at the faces surrounding me. They sang “Happy Birthday,” and I laughed when they added theatrics and operatic ornaments. “Make a wish!” they said.

I held my own hair back and thought: What should I wish for?

~     ~     ~

Last year, when I turned 23, I begged my mother not to do anything. “Just dinner with the family,” I said. “We can go to my favorite restaurant, but I don’t want a party.”

I think she was a little relieved, because she stresses out whenever we have a party.

So we went to my favorite place – a dark, cozy, old restaurant that serves lamb and red wine – and I thought that was exactly what I wanted. Here were my parents, my siblings, and delicious food.

But when I got home, when I sat in my room reading, I realized that wasn’t what I wanted. I’d chosen smallness, because there wasn’t enough of me to celebrate how I wanted to celebrate. I needed quiet, but it wasn’t what I wanted. I was grateful for my yummy rack of lamb, but there was something missing.

~     ~     ~

[“You have to do something, Cath. Have a party. Invite everyone. Do what you want. We’ll help you, both of us, and we will have a blast.”]

~     ~     ~

So this year, that’s what I did. I had a party. I surrounded myself with people I adore. There were moments when someone new would walk in the door, and I felt almost like crying. Wait, you are in my life! You are amazing! I can’t believe how good God has been. 

[When he gave me the little package of paperbacks – all copies of “Decision Making by the Book” – I threw my arms around him shamelessly. It’s good when friends read your blog and buy you books to give to your friends. “Hopefully you won’t find the new cover quite as ugly as the old one!” he said, laughing. I gave every last copy away that night, and the six more coming in a few weeks will be dispersed just as quickly.]

One of my friends said to another: “This party’s interesting: it’s classy, I mean, there’s brie, but then there’s dancing.”

That’s pretty much perfect.

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(This picture is all of us laughing when B cried excitedly: “And an unlit candle to grow on!” “Isn’t it an extra LIT candle to grow on?” I said. I guess every family’s different… :))

That’s the difference, I think, between my 23-year-old self and my new 24-year-old self: I’m tired of not celebrating. I’m tired of not letting people know how much I love them. So what if it surprises them? So what if it might seem like too much? Love is too much, really, when you think about it. It’s crazy how big love can be. This year is going to be about freedom, and that freedom is showing people who I really am, what I really think, and how I really feel.

Even if it’s sometimes too much to handle.

So that’s my goal (or my wish, I guess you could say): love bigger and show it better.

Thanks for a great birthday.

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Artsy-blur affect. Blowing out 24 candles: the best way to use that college-educated diaphragm.

P.S. I’m a little less broke than I was last year!!! Hurrah for moving up in the world!!!