It’s August and in 23 days I will no longer be allowed to use the excuse “well, that was in my 20s…” for any and every one of my poor choices.
In 23 days I will seriously consider just letting my hair go gray, pour myself a glass of tequila and wave at 29 as it slips on out the back door and out into the home pasture, taking my youth with it as it goes on its merry way.
So, yes, it’s official, I couldn’t stay 26 forever.
26 was my ideal age. Have I told you that? I don’t even know what I was doing then, probably broke in Missoula, MT climbing a mountain or contemplating just letting my hair turn to dreadlocks on its own. I thought 26 was good because I was old enough to have finished school, found someone who would marry me and continue my quest for a respectable job, but young enough that if none of those things worked out there would still be time.
I could take that trip to Europe or cross the country in an old Winnebego. There was no rush to settle down.
I was 26. I could pierce my nose and it would be cool. Because I was 26 and I was still young.
But turns out 26 turns to 27 and then 28 and pretty soon you’re on the back side of your twenties knee-deep in a complete home renovation project that keeps you from the buying that Winnebego and following dots on the map.
And you forgot to get your nose pierced.
I have 23 days. I could still do it.
But seriously folks. I’ve got 23 days before I’m 30 and I’m feeling a little wistful about the whole thing. I mean, I have to be honest, these last ten to twelve years of adulthood have been pretty great. I can’t complain. I’ve spent them traveling the country singing for my supper, dating and marrying my high school crush,
testing out different towns and different jobs, buying concert tickets, planning ski trips, raising two misfits dogs, updating my resume, tiling bathrooms, painting new bedrooms, writing my story and singing it out loud and moving all my earthly and hand-me-down possessions six times in six years.
I’ve learned what it takes to be married. I’ve learned what it feels like to be truly disappointed and truly happy. I’ve killed pretty much all of my house plants.
I’ve put on a million miles, grew a few muscles and found my way home.
And now here I am, looking out the window of our new house, our forever home, at a dirt pile that will someday be a lawn and I’m a little bit exhausted, a little bit satisfied, and little bit nervous, a little bit hungry (I’m always a little bit hungry) and a little like, oh, I don’t know what I’m doing…except I think I know exactly what I’m doing. I think…
My friends tell me my thirties will be the best years. They say you know who you are. They say you’re settled in. They say you’re more sure. More confident.
I guess I’ll find out.
Lately I’ve been staying up late, the windows open to the sounds of a stray truck rolling by on the pink road, the breeze pushing through the trees, the howl of a coyote. In that time when the house is quiet and so is the world, I allow myself the sense to feel that tightening lump in my chest, the one that makes you wonder what the hell you’re doing out here, wonder if you’re cut out for it all, wonder how long you have, what you’re missing, wonder what’s next, wishing for more time to think, to do, to sleep…
And then I close my eyes and listen to the sound of my husband’s breathing and convince myself to think about it all tomorrow in the light of day. Because the night is for sleeping and turning you one day older.
One day wiser.
But here’s the thing. I joke about turning another year older, but the truth is I’ve never been afraid of aging. I’ve always admired the women who let their hair grow long and gray, the ones who wear their clothes the way they like and how to change a tire, change a diaper and change the world.
I’ve always looked forward to becoming one of those women.
I remember being a little girl who couldn’t sleep. I would close my eyes and try to visualize what I might look like when I got older. Would my butt get big? Would I cut my hair short? Would I get my nails done on Saturday?
And then I would busy my imagination with making plans for my life, to be a veterinarian, then maybe a teacher, a wilderness woman, a horse trainer, a writer or maybe just a singer…like I don’t have to be famous or anything, just make enough money to sing for a living…
I would marry a handsome boy with brown hair and strong arms and we would ride horses and live in a cabin.
I would have a garden and a baby and dramatic adventures that always turned out ok in the end.
I wonder what that girl would think of us now, married with no baby and no garden in a house we make dirty with sawdust on the weekends and sweep up a little on Monday.
We always hated to sweep.
And we always hated the way the frizz of our curls escaped our ponytail. I think she’d be happy to know my hair is long.
Think she’d be glad that I married this boy.
And that I’m still singing, just enough to make a little bit of a living…that’s alright…
Yes, I think she’d be glad there’s still so much I want to do. She’d understand that’s those thoughts, the thoughts of what I want to be, are the same ones that keep me up late while I plan on growing up.
I think she’d tell me it’s gonna be fun…