Thursday, February 23, 2006

Joyeux anniversaire à moi!

That's happy birthday to me. Today's my birthday, and as with every birthday since I have been living on my own, my mother calls me at 9:14am and sings happy birthday to me. Then she asks me, "So, how does [my age] feel?" This year, it's 29... So, how does 29 feel?

It feels the same to me as 28 felt, or as I imagine 30 will feel. The thing about 29, though, more so than 28.. is that I actually feel older than I did, say, five years ago. Or rather, I should say not that I feel older, but that I don't feel young any more.

I was at a fundraiser for work, and was talking with the younger brother of a business associate. He was newly graduated from college, and we were geeking out on politics and history (L'homme was a history major, Some Guy is Mr. Government Man, so the two closest men in my life were summed up in that conversation). This guy was a total cutie, and we were having a great time talking to one another. As I got in my car to drive home, I thought to myself, "Do I have any single friends I can fix this guy up with?" And then I thought about the fact that this guy would have little in common with my friends, once we got past what we liked in common. What I mean by that is that his idea of fun and the progression of a relationship would be completely different from my friends, because he's 23, and is looking for fun in his relationships. My friends are 28, and are looking for stability and a future to their relationships. It hit me that I was nearing my 30's... I have more in common with the 30somethings that I work with than I do with their younger siblings.

And that's okay. I mean, I should have less in common with newly graduated 20somethings... The summer I moved back home to Philadelphia I was 24, and I had a studio apartment that was essentially a hotel room. I didn't even have an oven to cook - I had a double burner, a mini-fridge, a sink, and a microwave and that was fine because I barely had enough money for food. But I lived downtown, and the reason I didn't have money for food was because I used the money for chocolate martinis with Brian and Kevin after work, where we'd go to the Tavern on Camac and wait for the pianist to begin at 9:00, at which point the bar became a sing-along. And that was one of the best summers of my life...

Until the summer after I turned 26, when L'homme and I married. We had a one-bedroom apartment with a real live oven and regular sized refrigerator. We were still downtown, but the endless chocolate martinis and piano-bar sing alongs were replaced with beers and Trivial Pursuit or Cranium at Chaucers with friends.

And this past weekend, we celebrated Sneezy-D's birthday and mine, with some beers and home-cooked food, and a fire in the fireplace in our home... We had a group of friends hanging out at our place in northwest Philadelphia - we're not living downtown any more, our jobs are on the next rung of our career paths, and we're thinking about expanding our family past Le Chat to include Le Bebe...

When you're young, your parents and your teachers tell you that you can be whatever you want to be, and do whatever you want to do - that the possibilities for your life are endless. That's not entirely true, as Some Guy will tell you, because your parents' economic status, where you're born... these things affect the choices you will have later on... But to an extent, as a child the world is open to you. As we begin to go through life and make choices, those choices limit the other options we have down the road. Picture it this way: if you walk into a maze, and you come to the first place you need to make a choice, you can either go straight, go left, or go right. If you go right, you can't go left, and you subsequently can't make the choices you'd have had if you had gone left... People out there who know game theory are with me on this...

So as we get older, and make education choices and career choices and relationship choices, we limit the other choices we get to make. And as we get older, the "endless possibilities" we had as children aren't so endless, and it is apparent that they aren't endless. We can see how the choices we have made have eliminated the possibility of other choices we could have made.

And so I told my mother that 29 feels kind of old, in that like chess, I can see how the gambits I've made as I was growing up have now played out on the board of my life, and my future choices are limited.

But don't get me wrong - I'm not bemoaning my age. I think that 29 is awesome! I love L'homme, and Le Chat. I have great friends like Some Guy, and Sneezy-D, and Qui Gonn Jesse (among others). I have a terrific boss, and a career I love and a job I really enjoy going to. And, one of the benefits of being 29 is that I know myself - I know what I believe, and I know who I am, and I like that. Those choices, while they limited the future choices I have, were good choices in that they made me who I am, and I really like who I am. Yeah, I need work, but who doesn't?

So what does 29 feel like? It feels great. But a little old...
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