Things I thought I’d have at 30 when I was 5: gray hair and grandchildren. (Read: 30 seemed really, really, really old.)
Things I thought I’d have at 30 when I was 15: a husband, a home in the country, a kid or two, a good college education, a garden, and a horse in the backyard. (Read: I wanted my mother’s life, plus a horse.)
Things I thought I’d have at 30 when I was 25: a boyfriend, the beginnings of a career, less debt, more money, a newer car, and good health insurance. (Read: I will be a settled, responsible adult in five years, so I might as well have my fun now!)
And here I am, three months from turning 30.
And what do I have?
Amazing, wonderful, too-good-to-be-true friends. Two ridiculously handsome nephews and one breathtakingly beautiful niece. A set of parents I cannot imagine living without, still, even at this stage of adulthood. Two sisters who humor, humble, and bolster me. Brother in laws who adore and torment me as if I was their own kid sis. An enormous and overly furry cat who always greets me happily at the front door.
A lovely, cozy apartment, all to myself, filled with all my own things, decorated just to my liking.
A strong self image. A strong, supple body. An endlessly fascinating and fulfilling yoga practice. A compelling voice on the page. A ready laugh, an easy likability, a firm sense of my moral center.
A nice, solid resume of professional success. A few bylined freelance articles. A blog that boasts more readers than just my immediate family.
I have much.
Nearing 30, I have the confidence to say “no” to anyone and anything that does not serve me well. I have the courage to take risks, to embrace challenges, to endure the rockier road. I have scars that remind me not to make the same mistakes of battles past.
I have fewer questions about who I am in the world and more concern about how I can better the world around me.
I have stamps in my passport; I have pictures and mementos from another land.
I have a seasoned set of practiced skills to deal with change.
I just realized the other day that I actually have wrinkles—several, in fact.
I have a wonderful dermatologist to help with those wrinkles, a good 401(k), great health insurance, and a reliable 2006 Subaru that still feels brand spanking new, despite the year-plus of monthly payments that remind me the car is most certainly not new.
Nearly 30, I have life insurance—even if my life, on paper, is worth next to nothing and my beneficiaries are my parents.
I have the burgeoning beginnings of a very personal, very eclectic art collection, now neatly framed and hung on my white apartment walls.
I have a closet full of shoes scuffed from countless dance floors.
I have his letters.
I have memories of him and of the other handful of men I have loved.
I have many memories.
I may not have the husband, nor the little ones tottering underfoot, nor the home or the horse. (I gave up on the garden long ago after 8 years of city living.) I haven’t found a single gray hair yet. I haven’t ridded myself of all debt. I haven’t even figured out how best to spend and save my hard-earned money.
But, I do have faith, and hope, and a ceaseless optimism that sometimes keeps me up at night, as I lay in bed and wonder when I will meet a man to share my life with and how I will ever be able to afford the life I want and where I will, finally, decide to plant my roots and start a home, a family, that next great leg of adulthood.
I have, at this age, at this point, so much more than I ever could have imagined when I was 5 or 15 or even 25.
Because most of all, I have me—with all my overly self-critical and fantastically creative and sweetly caring and dorky, silly quirks. That wonderful woman—the one who works hard and loves hard, who gives earnestly, who aims to live life honestly, who juggles so many passions and interests and questions and goals—she is all my own.
It has taken me until now, three months to 30, to realize I have never considered myself so lucky as I am today.
In writing this, I was reminded of a Joy Harjo poem my mother introduced me to back in high school. It is called “She Had Some Horses.” It is rather fitting to include here, in more ways than one.