Here’s the truth: I was in Miami on my actual birthday. I woke up at the crack of dawn, glanced at my watch and read 6:10 a.m.- precisely a half hour to the exact minute I was born thirty short years ago. So what did I do? I cried. I let a few idle tears slide off the sides of my face and onto the pillow- I silently whimpered a final goodbye to my 20’s, telling myself that yes, we had a good run.
When I was done with my gratuitous blubbering, I got out of bed, tiptoed downstairs, opened my mom’s sub-zero fridge in order to eat what was left of my Publix birthday cake- every last hot-pink butter cream rose. Although I felt sick for the rest of the day- it was well worth it. I had told myself that in my 30’s- I would be more health-conscious, I would be happier and not wallow in unnecessary self-pity, and that I would (continue to) live my life to the fullest. Well, at least I got the last one right.
In my teens- I wanted to be older. I longed to be able to drink (without the use of my fake ID), to vote, to drive, to get a tattoo…I wanted freedom: no curfews, unlimited television time and financial independency. In my 20s I wanted love. Now, I’m in my 30’s and I don't have a curfew, I can watch as much TV as I want (albeit in Italian), I have a tattoo that I totally regret and I am (pretty much) financially independent. I have found and lost and found love again…many times over.
30 is an age that has been creeping closer for a few years now. When I turned 28, I vowed to make the final two years count. When I turned 29, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, reminded me that it was my last shot at my 20’s. Then, as the final few weeks flew by and my birthday skidded closers and closer, I tried coming to terms with the fact that the mathematics don't lie: 29+1=30.
I have to say, now that I have finally hit the big 3.0.- I don't feel any different. I am not wiser than I was yesterday. And although I don't feel older, I did look in the mirror and happen to notice a few more wrinkles…but when I asked if this were a good age to start considering Botox, I was told I was nuts- so that contemplation was put to rest.
Somewhere amongst my journals, hidden away, I have a list that I made regarding what I planned to have accomplished by the time I was 30. It’s probably a good thing I can’t find it. Although, as best as I can remember, my goals were not unreasonable. I think, more than anything, I wanted to be a published author- a novelist, by the time I was 30. That didn't happen. I hoped to live abroad. That did happen. I wanted a master’s in business. Got that done. My own puppy. Yep. And I sought happiness. Check.
Now is the time, I suppose, to reassess my goals- and possibly put a few to rest- push harder for some- and bury others, pretending that they never even existed at all. I have to admit, it's a bit confusing when I consider what it is I want to accomplish in my 30s. Part of me says that if I haven’t done “it” yet, “it” will never happen. The other part says, go for it- this is really the last chance. I look around and in truth, it’s hard to judge, based on experience and influences, what I should or should not be doing. At 30, a great number of my friends are married- many with kids. Other groups are starting new careers or embarking on solo-ventures. Some have already made their millions, others are just beginning. I suppose, as opposed to the 20’s filled with education and career decisions- what we do with our 30’s is more of an individual choice.
Looking back, the 20s were amazing. But then again, everything is amazing “looking back.” However, I still think I had a good time. I managed to get a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from two great universities, I moved from Miami to DC, to Italy, to NY, to England, to Russia to Mexico to Dubai, back to England, to Barcelona and wound up in Rome. Beyond that- I traveled throughout the world. I met so many incredible individuals that they are hard to count. I’ve had experiences I never even dreamed of having. I’ve learned a million and one things- from making pasta from scratch, to the basics of many world religions, a number of languages and how to change a tire. I gained “non-transferable and thus highly valued business skills” (thank you Steph) and I now know how to care for a bonsai. I’ve climbed glaciers, jumped out of planes and seen my byline in global publications. I have slept under the stars in the Sahara, cruised the Mediterranean and saved endangered sea turtles in Central America. I’ve been chased by a zebra on Safari in Kenya, been skinny dipping in the Redwood Forest, seen the Taj Majal at sunrise and gone on a camel ride around Pyramids of Giza. I’ve taken a boat trip down the Mekong Delta and planted a tree in Israel. I’ve walked through the ruins of Pompeii, Ancient Rome and Greece and spent three days ambling through the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I’ve bathed in the oldest Hammam in Istanbul and drank too much tequila looking over the Zócalo in Mexico City. I tuk-tuked through the colorful markets of Jaipur and witnessed to a ping-pong show in the Patpong district of Bangkok. I am a godmother, a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, a best friend, and I hope- a good mother to my puppy. I sang Karaoke in Beijing and visited the clay warriors in Xian. I sailed a felucca down the Nile and drank far too many pints at Oktoberfest in Munich. I’ve gambled in the casinos of Macau and Monte Carlo, and seen Mt. Kilamanjaro from the sky. I’ve been scuba diving in the Red Sea and later, off the isolated islands of Malaysia. I learned to wakeboard in Sardegna, to surf in Costa Rica and to play pétanque on a small island in France. I’ve crawled through the Cu Chi tunnels in Vietnam and sailed along the Norweigen Fjords at springtime. I hope I’ve been a good friend to some- and maybe even made a difference in the lives of others. I’ve laughed till I peed and cried myself to sleep and now, I feel like I'm singing the final lines of Sinatra’s My Way...I did all this- and not in a shy way. And I’m only 30.
Part of me is scared. I can confidently note that I happen to be happy where I am now and I can see myself here for a while- but then sometimes, I wake up and think “is this it?” Is this where the journey ends? I could say that it’s been a good ride and leave it at that. But I know- in my heart of hearts- that I’m not ready to put away the compass and maps yet- that I can’t say that I’m done- I’m not even close to being done. So I guess this is my personal message to my 30’s: Get ready. Here I am!