Tomorrow, I turn 30. If you really put it into perspective, it is absolutely ridiculous or maybe even offensive that someone might have confused feelings about this. Many people never make it this far and would probably have given anything they could to experience the tingling promise of a new decade.
And, boy, was the last decade a blast. Maybe that is why my heart is heavy today. The same way I feel when I think about the pastoral childhood I was privileged enough to have and sense the pang of loss at never having another sweet day as an eight year old swinging from a tree in the sunshine. I guess now an hour before I am 30, I am beginning to understand why people have kids. So they can watch them swing and soak up the joy their children radiate. As a way of remembering in the present.
I know where I was exactly ten years ago, which feels peculiar. I usually have trouble remembering the details of the past, so it is strange to reflect with this level of certainty and clarity. It seems like that was a lifetime—a person—ago. Like a movie I saw once and have since forgotten the title. And when I examine the last ten years from a distance like this, I see now that I was an entirely different person. I read once that all the cells in the human body completely regenerate every seven years, so who knows, maybe I was a completely different person back then. I think I have improved at least a little, despite my own stubborn efforts to remain the same. Change is sometimes slow, sometimes fast, and sometimes not at all. I hope I changed.
19 years and 364 days, I had just moved to Berlin. I had just started an exchange in a faraway land. I was always a Mommy and Daddy’s girl (still am a decade later), but somehow my parents managed to make me feel close to them no matter how far away I went. I live far away now, too, but I still feel like my parents could be down the street since that is how intensely I can sense their love. Berlin was huge, exciting, terrifying and thrilling, all at the same time. And I remember sitting in a bar and thinking “My god, this is my last night as a teenager. I need to say goodbye”, much as I am doing so tonight.
21, I returned to Canada to finish my BA in English and German studies. 22, back to Berlin to teach English. 23, Toronto again working as a German Medical Market Researcher where I met my dear friend, Claudia (who will play a huge roll again at 26). 24, started my Masters in Screenwriting at York University and began my mid-twenties crisis. As a result (or possibly as a prerequisite) I started working at my beloved Sneaky Dee’s. 25 is pretty much a write-off, although I can thank my best friends for such a high level of fun and hilarity that it really is just a blissful blur in retrospect. 26, things started slowing down around me, inside me, and I finally opened my mind to the possibility of real love. Love like I had never permitted myself to have before. And that is precisely when I met my husband while visiting Claudia on vacation in Munich. 27, I dropped everything and moved across the ocean to be with my now-husband. A few months later, he waited patiently at the top of a mountain until the clouds parted to ask me to be his wife. 28, I cultivated my relationships and a calmness crept into my soul as I allowed myself to reflect on the internal for the first time in my life. 29. In June, I married the love of my life in a sun shower surrounded by our incredible families and friends. Even my Oma made it to the wedding after we were all convinced she wasn’t going to see Christmas (she is a constant source of strength and inspiration, no matter my age). It is true when they say it is really the best day of your life. A cliché is just that for a reason. And now I am here, snuggling under an orange blanket that we “borrowed” from my mother-in-law, wondering if I should be sad or happy or maybe equal shares of both.
Some of the best friends I have I can thank the last decade for (although, to my good fortune, many of them predate even the day I mourned and celebrated the passing of my teenage years). I have laughed so hard I got killer abs (securely hidden under a layer of life-loving, decadent chub). I have cried so hard I have actually hyperventilated on numerous occasions and my tear ducts got irritated and took a two hour lunch to spite my sobs. I learned love like I had never known. I have had friendships reach seemingly bottomless depths of respect and love. I have had to sacrifice very little and have gained probably more than I think I deserve. I have worked hard, quit too soon, struggled, given up, cared too little and too much, ached, rejoiced, fought and laid down my arms. After these ten years, I am both deeply disappointed in and profoundly proud of myself.
Tomorrow is just another today. Objectively, I will only be one day older, but suddenly, I will be a full blown adult, the kind I feared the night before my 20th birthday ten years ago. And so, with sorrow and optimism, I must embrace tomorrow as another new day. I hope it turns out as well as the last 3650 and I hope everyone I love is by my side to share them with me.
Here is to the big three oh.