To be thirty-one is to be in-between. No longer young, selfish, carefree. Not yet settled. Neither here nor there. I remember being excited to turn thirty. I wasn’t the person who hung onto my twenties with a death grip. No, I looked forward to leaving behind a decade of struggle and confusion and caring so damn much about every little thing, to the point of exhaustion. I reveled in thirty. In a man I loved with my whole heart, without losing myself. In a career that I was damn good at and recognized for that. And especially in the permission to give so many fewer fucks. It’s a beautiful thing, turning thirty and deciding that if something isn’t important to you, you are no longer required to care about it. Keeping up with the latest trends? No thanks. Trying to figure out the newest app you have no use for? Boy bye. Keeping up with that celebrity with millions of followers? Not me. I will reserve my fucks-giving for my friends, family, fandoms, and causes I care deeply about.
But thirty-one? Thirty-one is the hangover. The realization that just because you passed some arbitrary numerical milestone doesn’t mean you’re immune to “should.” Should has been hanging around me like a cloud since I was let go from my job, but it struck home hard the other day when my fiancé and I went to a friend’s baby shower. There were no less than five babies (okay, maybe toddlers but if they’ve still got that adorable leg chub, they’re babies to me) running around and a playroom fit for a prince. It was unsettling in a way that I couldn’t pin down until I got home and texted my best friend, Roo.
There were so many babies, I told her. And they were so cute with their little personalities already starting to show. Roo asked if I was excited to have kids. The wrongness of the word “excited” needled me, teasing out why I’d been so unsettled by the party. I want kids, yes. I’d realized that years ago with the kind of surprise that dismantled every image I’d had of myself and my future. But “excited” implied an immediacy I couldn’t connect with. I’m excited for my trip to Europe later this year. I’m excited for our wedding next fall. Kids? They seem so far off and out of reach that it doesn’t feel worth it to get excited about that possibility. And that thought was weirdly sad to me.
Surprising because with most of my other friends and even my family, there’s no rush towards domesticity. My mother has never nagged me about grandkids and even now when the hypothetical has become a planned future, she talks about my kids with the same dreamy futurism that Roo uses when talking about when I’m a bestselling author. My closest friends and older brother are either single or have decided not to have kids. Many of my fiancé’s friends still hit up the same bars they’ve been frequenting since college graduation. And us? We’re somewhere in between. Mortgages and play dates as far down the road as tequila shots and smoke breaks are in the rearview mirror. And trying to figure out if I’m where I “should” be is just as tempting and impossible as it was before I hit the big 3-0.
P.S. Featured pic is kind of unrelated, but that’s about how dapper our friends’ kids are. Their wardrobes are way fiercer than mine.