I cherish small honest moments with people. With facebook, texting and emailing making up a majority of our social interactions, truthful connections can bring back our pulse.
My best friend got married this weekend, it was a beautiful ceremony at the Air and Space Museum which provided me with a playground of large planes and no security guards. It was towards the end of the night and I was sitting with an old acquaintance that I hadn’t spoken to in years. She asked me how I was, and without thought I just said “Eh…okay, you?” “Yeah…I thought there was more to being in your 30s.” And we laughed…we both got it…we were both in the same place…what the heck is this thing called Thirty Something! It was a small, honest moment.
I didn’t have a plan for my thirties, I didn’t know what to expect, but I am pretty sure this isn’t it. I heard people say it was a time when you could finally relax! You learned from your twenties who you were and what you wanted and you, in your thirties, could just be. I am pretty sure that is a lie…or else my generation keeps missing the boat of contentment.
An hour before the wedding I had managed to spill a bottle of oil based make-up removed in my hair and down my dress. I did the only natural thing I could: I went for the baby powder and thus created a white paste in my hair.
An hour after the ceremony I was sitting with the bride, her new husband and mother. Her mom pointed out that they had forgotten to do the bouquet toss, her solution was that Emily and I go on the dance floor so the time honored tradition of highlighting single ladies could remain intact. Emily is 9. And for a split second I saw my life flash before my eyes, and all I could do was beg for this not to happen.
Two months before the wedding, Super Bowl Sunday. I was lying on the floor, eyes still wet from the Dodge Farmer commercial that made the world weep. My niece was sitting next to me and began drawing a circle on my stomach with her finger. “Aunt Jac, are you pregnant?” Wow. “Nope, J, I am not.” “Well, are you ever going to have a baby…”
20 minutes after the I Dos and I was catching up with old friends over cheese and wine. We knew each other in our early twenties and went to the same church and did ministry together. We talked about mission trips we went on which were nothing more than glorified vacations. I told a story of my time in grad school when an American undergrad told me she was going to drop out of college, with one semester left, and become a missionary…my response “What skills are you going to use? Finish school!” We laughed about the idealism of young people. My mother, in an earshot, chimed in “Now don’t you remember when you were in the Pastor’s office every week talking about becoming a missionary? You came home with a new plan every week!” God gave us mothers to remind us of everything we have done in our lives without this would all be a lot more judgmental. It’s true, if it were up to my 23 year old self, I would be living in Azerbaijan. At the end of the conversation we all agreed that we wish we had some of that idealism back. It kept me moving forward, it kept me hoping, it made me better. Now, in my thirties, I settle.
One day after the wedding; I had just finished a day date with my niece. We were in the car driving out of the parking lot, it was quite. “Aunt Jac, are you going to get married.” “I hope so.” “Me too.” “I just need to find a nice boy. What kind of boy do you want me to meet?” “I don’t know, just one. Just one.”
40 minutes after the ceremony and I ran into an old friend from high school. We partied in high school and probably hung out with the wrong crowd but both managed to end up on the right track. We were friends in early college when our ideas for the future were great. I wanted to be a lawyer and change the world. I wonder if my 20 year old self would be shocked at my 31 year old self.
“What do you do now?” says 20 year old self
“I work and then I come home and play solitaire and look at what other people are doing with their life on Facebook.” 31 year-old self says
“What’s Facebook? Wow, were you robbed? What happened.” As my skinny, sassy 20-year-old self looks around my apartment.
“Oh, no, I just kind of don’t put things away. Sometimes, after a really long day at work, I will just take off my clothes as I am walking into the house because I need to get into comfy pants as soon as possible, and then I don’t pick them up.”
“Okay, well, we have always like comfy pants.”
“YES! And, we’re still not brushing our hair?” Says five year old self, who snuck into the picture…wearing striped leggings, a flower skirt, and polka dot sweatshirt.
3 weeks before the wedding. I parked my rental car in a very cold Fort Collins. I got out of the car to make the half block walk to my boss’s condo. I saw a college student nearby and quickened my pace. I was scared, I am scared of youths. I am at the age where I am afraid of young people and also am at the age where I have the urge to let people know when they have cut in line and should wait their turn. I also act like I am sick on Southwest flights so people won’t sit next to me…pretty sure that doesn’t have anything to do with being thirtysomething and more so with selfishness.
1 hours after the ceremony an old friend and I were catching up and sharing photos. She was showing me pictures of her gorgeous kids and family. I was showing her pictures of other people’s kids and other people’s dogs.
1 week and 2 days before the wedding after a long arduous day of meetings, I was out with colleagues, we decided to go dancing. Better yet, I declared that WE WERE going dancing! We walked into what can only be described as a horrible college bar with disastrous decorations. There was no one in the bar. Our group of 15 made up 90% of the occupancy. The DJs were spinning something, but no one knew what. My friend approached the DJ and said “Hey, I am with a group of old people and we don’t know what you are playing, can you play something else?” 10 minutes later he played Steve Miller Band…I am pretty sure he hadn’t seen people our age in that bar…ever, so unfortunately he took it back a little too far! Within minutes the bar went from zero people to packed with tiny boys that looked 15 years old, all wearing flannel. The dance floor became crowded with these little folk dancing very freakishly, spastically and erotically. I felt very uncomfortable. We all felt a little old and out of place, and partly because we were wearing slacks, khakis and cardigans. Unsure of what moves we should use, we stayed off to the side, swayed and snapped our fingers. A few minutes later we gave up, gave in, went on the dancefloor and started dancing. We moved in whichever way we please, we over exaggerated our moves and made silly faces. I stopped (completely out of breath…I blame the altitude and not a lack of physical mobility in every day life) and thought “where are all those college kids?” I looked behind me and they were in the corner. We had encompassed the entire dance floor and we moved them right to the back. We danced all night long and mostly to songs none of us had ever heard.
So I suppose we thirtysomethings really don’t have a clue what we are doing, but maybe its just about dancing with your arms flailing in the air, not giving a damn and having a lot of fun doing it.